Internet Adoption Rate Climbs

Gretchen Gallen
UNITED NATIONS – As many adult entertainment companies continue to weigh the pros and cons of investing in international markets, a United Nations communications agency came out with some encouraging news on global Internet adoption rates.

The study, referred to as the 'Digital Access Index', was initially prepared for a United Nations pow-wow in Geneva, but also provides a strong marker for Internet-based companies looking at global opportunities for expansion.

The Index was prepared by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and examined Internet and mobile communication adoption levels in 178 countries, and then narrowed it down to the 40 most advanced countries and compared their progress in 2003 to data collected in 1998.

At the forefront of the study was an analysis of the number of telephone lines and mobile phones per inhabitant, the standard cost of Internet access, the availability of high-speed connections, and the percentage of Internet users per capita.

Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, and Finland were recorded as topping the charts when it comes to accessing the Internet and other communications technologies, the UN study said.

Although countries like South Korea, China, and Japan were only a few strides behind.

"In none of these countries is English the mother tongue," said Michael Minges, author of the report and an expert for ITU. "Yet they've done exceedingly well. And look at the countries that have dropped the most. They're all Anglophone countries."

Minges added that over the past four years there has been a major shift in adoption rates internationally.

Asia in general showed the most significant growth since the 1998 study, especially in terms of Internet and high-speed usage in cities like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Hong Kong was recorded as having the cheapest Internet access of all the countries studied.

According to the study, South Korea is a world leader in high-speed broadband adoption in more heavily populated cities where mobile technology, text messaging, and games are wildly popular.

Not surprisingly, the United States garnered a relatively low score, compared to its non-English-speaking counterparts, due in part to its "under-developed mobile phone system," the study stated, which has suffered from lack of governmental intervention.

"This is completely contrary to everything that we've heard, that English is an advantage, if you don't speak English you're behind," Minges was quoted as saying.

Other low scorers were Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Slovenia, Israel, and Britain, which seems to have digressed technologically since the original study.

Ranking behind those countries were Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Malaysia, Argentina, and Jamaica.

Africa, Egypt, and India all scored the lowest of the other countries, the study stated, due in part to limited infrastructure and high rates of illiteracy.