Geneva - The cost of fixed telephony in Taiwan was the second lowest after Iran globally in 2008, making it one of the the world's most affordable information and communication technology (ICT) services, according to a report released Monday by the Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The cost of fixed telephony, along with mobile telephony and Internet broadband, is a criterion that is factored into the ICT Price Basket used by the ITU to measure the affordability of ICT services in 150 countries. It is calculated by comparing the costs with the countries' gross national income (GNI) per capita.
Hong Kong had the lowest cost of mobile telephony worldwide in 2008, while the United States had the lowest Internet broadband costs.
The report showed that Taiwan ranked seventh worldwide on the ICT Price Basket, behind Singapore, the United States, Luxembourg, Denmark, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates and ahead of Sweden, Norway and Finland. The price of ICT services in these 10 countries range between 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent of their monthly GNI per capita.
Meanwhile, the report uses a new ICT Development Index to compare developments in information and communication technologies in 154 countries over a five-year period from 2002 to 2007 to measure the magnitude and evolution of the global digital divide. The index combines 11 indicators -- such as households with a computer, the number of Internet users, and literacy levels -- that are related to ICT access, use and skills.
The report found that developed and developing countries have increased their ICT levels by more than 30 percent over the five-year period, but developing countries are still lagging behind on ICT access and usage.
Taiwan, however, went down in the index over the five-year period, dropping from 17th in 2002 to 25th in 2007, according to the report.
The report showed that the 10 countries with the highest ICT levels worldwide are Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Finland and the United Kingdom, all of which are in Europe, except for South Korea.
Based on the latest year-end figures for 2008, the report noted a clear shift from fixed to mobile telephony.
At the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines globally, two thirds of which are now in the developing world compared with a figure of less than half in 2002, the report indicated.
The ITU estimates that by the end of 2008, 61 out of 100 inhabitants globally had subscribed to mobile telephone service, and 23 out of 100 inhabitants were using the Internet.
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