UN body: Digital divide in Asia Pacific disturbing

/ 03:22 AM August 20, 2016

Emerging economies continued to overtake advanced markets in mobile broadband use last year, but a growing gulf in fixed-broadband subscriptions between wealthy and low-income markets in Asia and the Pacific was a “worrisome” trend, a report showed.

Those details were contained in a technical paper released by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The report, called the State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016, aimed to tackle the growing fixed-broadband divide.


It said subscriptions in fixed broadband, which typically require more investments, was concentrated in the East and Northeast Asia, which cornered 75 percent. Southeast Asia, which includes the Philippines, had only 5.74 percent, according to 2015 data.

Concerns were raised because fixed-broadband was closely-linked to the use of inclusive e-commerce activities and better delivery of services by non-governmental organizations.


It further noted mobile internet in Asia, which allowed more flexible and affordable access, mainly catered to the “entertainment segment of the market.” Less common was its use for “productivity and developmental” purposes like agriculture, education, and employment.

“It is worrisome that the digital divide in fixed broadband subscriptions is growing and there does not seem to be any sign of the gap narrowing,” the UN body said in the report.

“Taking into account the actual speed and quality of access, the low level of fixed broadband adoption among low-income countries may indicate and lead to their limited contributions to productivity increase or economic activities in the digital era,” it added.

The report noted high pricing in certain markets was a deterrent to fixed broadband adoption.

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