A new policy brief from ITU and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), finds that high costs for Internet access relative to income remain one of the main barriers to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) services worldwide. Taking income differences into account, a mobile broadband subscription with at least 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of data costs around four times more in developing countries than in developed ones.
“The affordability of ICT services 2020″ analyses five categories, namely mobile broadband, fixed broadband, mobile data and voice low-usage, mobile data and voice high-usage, and mobile cellular low usage. Service prices in all five categories continued a slow but steady decline over the past year.
Developing countries were the main drivers of this global price decline. However, a pronounced affordability gap remains between developed and developing countries. While 4G networks cover areas with about 85 per cent of the world’s population, nearly half of those people were still offline in 2020.
“The declining price trend for mobile and fixed broadband is encouraging, but we need to strengthen our efforts to lower the prices in developing countries,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the digital transformation, we need to connect all people to schooling, work, health, business and government services. We build up the infrastructure for a better future, not only for challenging times.”
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