Who were the winners and losers in ITU's 2016 index?

- Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Who were the winners and losers in ITU's 2016 index?

St. Kitts and Nevis climbed 20 places in the annual Measuring the Information Society Report, published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), more than any other nation worldwide, and is now the best-ranked nation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The small Caribbean country reached 34th place in the world ranking and surging ahead of Uruguay, the previous Latin American leader, which rose two places from the previous index to 47th.

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According to ITU, the improved performance of St. Kitts and Nevis has been driven by a "spectacular rise" in the proportion of active mobile broadband subscriptions.

The study considers data such as penetration of internet in the home, internet users, computer owners, broadband, mobile phones, fixed lines, literacy, high school graduates, grade school graduates, pre-paid mobile internet subscriptions and post-paid internet subscriptions.

The report found that mobile broadband networks (3G and 4G) now cover 84% of the world's population, although only 47.1% of people effectively use the internet and can be considered 'users'.

In addition to St. Kitts and Nevis, significant improvements were also seen in Dominica (which rose eight places to 69th), Bolivia (up six places to 111st) and Mexico (up four places to 92nd).

Among the biggest losers, St. Lucia dropped seven places in the ranking, Antigua & Barbuda was five places lower and Venezuela lost four places.

The five best-placed Latin American nations markets in the index were St. Kitts and Nevis (34th), Uruguay (47th), Argentina (55th), Chile (56th) and Costa Rica (57th). Latin America's largest economy, Brazil, was ranked 63rd, while Cuba trailed the rest in 135th place.

INEQUALITY

In its report, the UN's ITU said internet access in Latin America is closely linked to household income, more so than in OECD countries.

"Inequalities in internet access in Latin America mirror pronounced inequalities in income distribution across the region. The two countries with the highest income inequalities measured by the Gini coefficient, Colombia and Mexico, also present the largest differences in internet access between the poorest and richest quintile," the study reads.

In Mexico, nearly 70% of the richest quintile of society has internet access at home, while only 3% of households in the poorest quintile are connected to the internet, according to ITU.

Although there is much to be done, the entity said that internet is gradually reaching the lower-income segments of society, highlighting Costa Rica as an example, where affordable prices (with mobile broadband costing less than 1% of per capita Gross National Income).

However, in countries such as Bolivia and Peru, household internet access remains "an amenity only for the richest quintiles."