broadband commissionThe U.S. ranks 24th worldwide in the percentage of residents who use the Internet, according to the International Telecommunications Union’s 2013 State of Broadband Report, released in New York Saturday at a meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.  Eighty-one percent of U.S. residents use the Internet, the ITU said.

The nation with the highest percentage of people using the Internet was Iceland, where 97% of the people are Internet users. The top 10 countries all had usage rates above 88% and all but two – New Zealand and Qatar – were in Europe.

The ITU got a lot of attention with a report issued last year that showed there were two times as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband subscriptions worldwide. A year later, this new ITU research predicts there will be more than three times as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband subscriptions globally by the end of 2013.

The U.S. ranks ninth worldwide measured on mobile broadband penetration, according to the new ITU research. Just under three-quarters (74.7%) of U.S. citizens use mobile broadband, the ITU said. Ahead of the U.S. were several Asian and European countries and Australia.

The top five countries – including Singapore, Japan, Finland, the Republic of Korea and Sweden – had mobile broadband penetration rates above 100%, indicating that a substantial number of people have more than one mobile broadband connection. Singapore topped the list with a mobile broadband penetration rate of 123.3%.

The ITU’s Broadband Commission promotes policies aimed at increasing the deployment and adoption of broadband services, and the report contains some interesting data to illustrate the positive economic and societal impact that broadband can have.

Highlights of that data include:

  • A 2013 study from mobile association GSMA found that mobile health could save developed countries US$ 400 billion in 2017.
  • Small and medium size enterprises that spend more than 30% of their budget on web technologies grow their revenue nine times as fast as SMEs that spend less than 10%, according to 2012 research from McKenzie.
  • Doubling the broadband speed for an economy can increase gross domestic product growth by 0.3% on average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, according to research conducted by Arthur D. Little and Chalmers University of Technology for Ericsson. OECD countries include the world’s most developed nations.
  • The average increase in household income for a broadband speed upgrade of 4-8 Mbps is US$ 120 per month in OECD countries, according to the Arthur D. Little and Chalmers University research.
  • That same research also found that for households in OECD countries, there is a threshold broadband access speed to an earnings increase that is somewhere between 0.5 Mbps and 2 Mbps on average.
  • In OECD countries, according to that research, the greatest expected increase in income is for households that went from being without broadband to gaining 4 Mbps. Those households gained US$ 182 per month, researchers said.
Image courtesy of flickr user itupictures.

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