a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

What’s shrinking the digital divide the fastest?

Posted on the January 3rd, 2008

The mobile phone is the electronic device most often in the hands of those in developing countries, according to Katrin Verclas, of MobileActive.org. As of the end of 2007, three billion mobile phones were expected to be in use across the globe, Verclas says.

As a point of comparison, an estimated one billion people in the world reportedly had Internet access by the end of 2007 (see more on digital statistics here).

Verclas is the founder of MobileActive.org. It is a worldwide network for people interested in using mobile phones, and their potential for communication, in civil society and for social activism, according to the website.

Examples of innovative campaigns and projects abound. Democracy organizations have used mobile phones to swing elections through innovative get-out-the-vote activities, ensured impartial voting through poll monitoring via SMS, developed ground-breaking new information services with vital civic or health information, documented abuses of political prisoners, and lobbied legislators to pass environmental laws. (From the About section of MobileActive.org).

For more information about Verclas and the work she is doing, check out this webpage on Changents.com, where I first read about her.

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What nation is top dog in the digital revolution

Posted on the December 14th, 2007

The United Kingdom is ahead of the pack in the digital revolution, says James Thickett, Director of Research of Ofcom, the UK’s official regulatory body of communications industries.

The pack he’s referring to is made up of the twelve countries surveyed for a new Ofcom report just released yesterday. Nations studied were France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Canada, the UK, and the U.S. The report on the global communications market also provides a look at the four arriving powerhouse economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Some of the Ofcom report findings were:

  • The UK is picking up digital television at a higher rate than other countries, with 76 percent of UK households having gone digital by the end of 2006. In second place was the U.S., with 61 percent, followed by Japan with 60 percent;
  • Broadband connections had arrived at over half of all UK households by the end of 2006, bringing the country ahead of the U.S., for the first time;
  • Women use the Internet more than men, both in the UK and in the U.S. In the United States, women, at 52 percent, led men in online presence, while in the UK men and women spent the same amount of time online except in the 18-34 age group where women were a leap ahead of men in percent of use (57 to 43).

Thickett summarizes the new Ofcom report findings in a video presentation (below). He particularly highlights what he describes as enormous growth in mobile communications across the globe.

In the sector of mobile phones, for example, he said the UK has one of the highest rates of growth in the world, with 115 mobile connections for every 100 people. Only Italy has a higher rate, with 130 connections for every 100 people.

This massive rate of growth in the use of mobile phones also is happening in Brazil, Russia, India and China, according to Thickett, with those countries accounting for over 40 percent worldwide of new mobile connections.

The full report is available online

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