The Internet is more affordable and widespread, but still far from online opportunities | VanillaPlus

In 2022, the price of internet services has dropped all over the world Facts and Figures, annual world overview of the state of digital connectivity International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The Internet has become more affordable in all regions of the world and among all income groups, according to an assessment by ITU, the United Nations agency specializing in information and communication technologies (ICT).

However, cost remains a major barrier to Internet access, particularly in low-income economies. The current global economic climate, with high inflation, rising interest rates and deep uncertainty, may add to the challenge of expanding Internet access in low-income areas.

“The Internet in general may be more affordable, but for billions of people around the world, it remains as unaffordable as ever,” says ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “At a time when the global recession is deepening the economic prospects of many countries, we need to keep internet accessibility moving in the right direction.”

ITU’s Facts and Figures series provides estimates for key connectivity indicators for the world, regions and selected country groups. The assessment provides context for the evolving digital divide, while also reviewing progress towards closing it.

Earlier this year, the ITU said that nearly one-third of the world’s 2.7 billion people are not connected to the Internet. The figure was an improvement from 2021, but revealed a level from the strong connectivity gains achieved during the onset and height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Internet access is growing, but not as fast and as evenly as needed around the world,” says Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of the ITU’s telecommunications development office and ITU Secretary-General-elect. “Too many people still live in digital darkness. Our global challenge is to allocate resources that allow everyone to meaningfully benefit from being connected.”

Prices are low, but too high for many

According to Facts and Figures, the global median price of mobile broadband services fell from 1.9% to 1.5% of average gross national income (GNI) per capita in 2022. Mobile broadband allows users to access the internet from their smartphone. The affordability of this service has become a benchmark for global Internet use, as it provides relatively inexpensive access compared to fixed Internet service.

However, the cost of fixed or mobile broadband services remains prohibitive for the average consumer in most low-income economies.

A basic mobile data plan in these countries costs 9% of average income. This represents a slight decrease from 2021, but remains many times more expensive than the cost of similar services in high-income countries. The result is that those who have the least access to broadband service and those who can benefit the most from it pay the highest amounts in relative terms.

Earlier this year, the ITU and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Technology Envoy announced ambitious goals for universal and meaningful digital connectivity by 2030. Affordability is defined as the availability of broadband access at a cost of less than 2%. monthly GDP per capita is prioritized to ensure that everyone can fully benefit from connectivity.

Among economies for which data are available for both 2021 and 2022, more countries met the 2% accessibility target in 2022 across different types of services.

The gender divide within the digital divide

Although women make up nearly half of the world’s population, 259 million fewer women than men have access to the Internet. In 2022, only 63% of women use the Internet, compared to 69% of men. Facts and Figures 2022. The gender gap is even more worrying in low-income countries, where 21% of women are online compared to 32% of men, a figure that has not improved since 2019.

Overall, the world has moved closer to gender parity in the past three years. Gender parity is defined when the percentage of female Internet users divided by the percentage of males is between 0.98 and 1.02. Gender parity increased from 0.90 in 2019 to 0.92 in 2022.

In general, the regions with the highest internet usage also have the highest gender parity. In contrast, many of the world’s least developed and vulnerable economies have low internet usage, low gender equality scores and limited progress towards gender parity over the past three years.

Mobile phone ownership continues to grow

ITU for the first time Facts and figures It provides global and regional estimates of mobile phone ownership, revealing that almost three-quarters of the world’s population aged 10 and over will own a mobile phone in 2022. Mobile phones are the most common gateway to Internet access, with a percentage of ownership serving as a mobile phone. Internet availability and access indicator.

However, mobile phone ownership remains higher than internet usage, particularly in low-income countries. Dependence on mobile cellular service may be another indicator of the impact of costs, as overall prices for mobile-only services are cheaper than broadband.

Young internet users are crossing the digital threshold

according to Facts and Figures 2022Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are the driving force of communication, now 75% of young people worldwide can use the Internet, in 2021 this number will increase to 72%. Among the rest of the population, use is estimated at 65%.

Universality, defined as more than 95% of Internet use, has already been achieved among 15-24 year olds from high- and middle-income countries. Low-income economies have the biggest generation gap, with 39% of young people using the internet, compared to just 23% of the rest of the population.

Among other findings Facts and Figures 2022, mobile broadband subscriptions continue to grow rapidly and mobile is approaching mobile subscription prices, which are high. Fixed broadband subscriptions also continue to grow, but low digital skills remain a barrier preventing individuals from fully realizing the benefits of being online, as well as limiting their ability to avoid its dangers.

Detailed global, regional and country-level analysis for the five price plans tracked by the ITU, as well as the full 2022 country-level data set for ICT prices, will be released in 2023.

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