This morning, the Economist Intelligence Unit released a report on The Inclusive Internet, an index ranking 75 countries according to performance in four categories: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness.
The study was commissioned by Facebook’s Internet.org. A report accompanying the index is said to offer “guidance for policy makers on boosting internet inclusion in their countries. These include encouraging investment in fixed infrastructure, providing teacher training in digital skills, and involving men in discussions around female internet use to tackle negative cultural attitudes.”
Perhaps most surprising was that Canada ranked number one in the world for Affordability, an indicator that examines the cost of access relative to income and the level of competition in the Internet marketplace. “Price measures the cost of Internet access relative to income. Competitive environment measures the concentration of the marketplace for Internet service provision.”
Canada was tied for 8th place in the overall rankings, held back by a very low (34th place) ranking in the Readiness category, which examines the capacity to access the Internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy. Despite high digital literacy scores, Readiness also includes factors of “Trust and Safety” and “Policy.” Canada’s Policy score, measuring “the existence of national strategies that promote the safe and widespread use of the Internet,” was ranked 55th.
Key findings from the study include:
- There is more to inclusion than internet availability
- Middle-income countries outperform rich ones in some areas of inclusion
- Local content is abundant in non-English-speaking countries. Only one native English-speaking country (the US) ranks in the top ten in local content
- Taiwan, Spain and the UK lead the world in ensuring that women can connect to the internet. Singapore and five other developed countries—Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden follow closely behind
For Canadian policy makers, there are very important lessons to be derived from this report, including the lack of local content and the embarrassing 55th place ranking for our failure to develop a meaningful national broadband strategy. The report also challenges oft-repeated statements about competitiveness and the level of concentration in Canada’s mobile and internet sectors.
We’ll examine these issues and more at The 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit, taking place June 5-7 in Toronto.