LONDON -- Access to the Internet has greatly expanded and the focus should now be on the willingness and ability of citizens to use it for productive purposes, according to a new report published today, Redefining the digital divide, by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Current strategies for overcoming the digital divide do not necessarily address the underlying gaps such as affordability, usage and relevance of content, with country approaches varying significantly in terms of leadership, funding and technologies. The report, commissioned by Huawei, compares the strategies of Australia, France, India, Russia, the UK and the US. It includes a survey of 218 telecommunications industry executives and government policymakers.
The report’s key findings include:
Affordability remains a key obstacle to ICT adoption.
The urban/rural divide is a key concern, particularly the need for greater speeds outside major urban areas.
Policymakers and telecommunications executives are sharply divided on the key obstacles to solving the divide.
Funding is the biggest area of disagreement between the industry and policymakers.
Competition is crucial but regulation is equally important.