Nepal has been ranked in the 142nd position among 159 countries in the ICT Development Index (IDI) 2010 published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency for information and communication technologies.
The ranking is based on development in information technology and the telecom sector of 2008. In 2007, Nepal was in the 141st position in the IDI, according to the report Measuring the Information Society 2010 of the ITU.
The top 10 countries in the 2008 IDI are Sweden, Luxembourg, South Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, Japan, Norway and the UK. Overall, countries that rank toward the top of the IDI are from the developed world, whereas most of these toward the bottom are from the least developed countries having low-income capacity.
The report said that despite the economic crisis, use of information and communication technology-based services such as mobile phones and the internet had continued to grow worldwide. By the end of 2009, there were an estimated 4.5 billion mobile cellular subscriptions, corresponding to 67 per 100 inhabitants globally. “By the end of 2009, mobile cellular penetration in developing countries has more than doubled since 2005, when it stood at only 23 percent,” the report stated. “Internet penetration in the developed countries reached 64 percent and in the developing countries it reached only 18 percent.”
According to the ITU, one of the main challenges in offering internet service to more people is the limited availability of fixed broadband access which is primarily confined to internet users in the developed countries and some developing countries. Currently, promising developments are taking place in the mobile broadband sector.
“The introduction of high-speed mobile internet access in an increasing number of countries will further boost the number of users, particularly developing countries,” stated the report.
It said that mobile broadband subscriptions had grown steadily, and in 2008 surpassed those for fixed broadband.
Among South Asian countries, Sri Lanka is at number 105, India 117, Bhutan 123, Pakistan 128 and Bangladesh 137 in the 2008 IDI. With more than half of all the fixed broadband subscribers in the developing countries, northern neighbour China has been ranked in the 79th position. It also accounts for one-third of all the internet users in the developing countries.
Internet use has also continued to swell, albeit at a slower pace. In 2009, an estimated 26 percent of the world population or 1.7 billion people were using the internet. The percentage remained much higher in the developed countries compared to the developing world where four out of five people are still excluded from cyberspace.
Nepal has brought down the mobile tariff dramatically by 64 percent between 2008 and 2009. In the same period, Azerbaijan slashed the rates by 81 percent, Sri Lanka by 67 percent, Ukraine by 58 percent and Mexico by 52 percent, according to the ITU.