[bestbits] Connectivity for All: Insights from the 2018 Inclusive Internet Index

Renata Avila renata.avila at webfoundation.org
Mon Feb 26 11:06:30 EST 2018

Forwarding the message below, that might be of your interest, the new
Inclusive Internet Index, commissioned by Facebook.

Connectivity for All: Insights from the 2018 Inclusive Internet Index

*By Robert Pepper, Head of Global Connectivity Policy and Planning,
and Molly Jackman, Public Policy Research Manager*

Connectivity gives people voice, and helps them find and share knowledge,
strengthen their economies, and improve their communities. Bringing people
online can offer life-changing opportunities, but there are still
approximately 3.8 billion people without internet access. At Facebook,
we’re working to change that.

For the second year in a row, Facebook commissioned the Economist
Intelligence Unit (EIU) to create a comprehensive Inclusive Internet Index.
This year’s index covers 91% of the world’s population and an expanded data
set of 86 countries, up from 75 countries in 2017. The index assesses a
country’s internet inclusion across four categories: availability,
affordability, relevance, and readiness. This captures the availability and
quality of internet services, as well as ways in which people use the
internet for personal, social, and economic purposes. In addition, this
year’s index is published alongside a new global Value of the Internet
Survey, which polled 4,267 respondents from 85 countries to gauge
perceptions on how internet use impacts people’s lives.

The first index gave us valuable insights
 to help address the barriers to global connectivity. This year’s index
shows us that there is cause for optimism: Global connectivity has
increased 8.3%, and more people are connected than ever before. While this
progress is encouraging, we are still far from achieving full internet

This year’s index also finds:

   - *Fast growth of connectivity in low-income countries: *Emerging
   markets, especially in Africa, experienced the fastest and greatest
   progress over the last year. While connectivity worldwide grew 8.3%, there
   was a 65.1% increase in low-income countries. The proportion of
   households with internet access in low-income countries grew from 8% to
   13.2% (a 65.1% improvement), with the largest year-on-year increases in
   Rwanda (490%), Nepal (138%), and Tanzania (87.8%).
   - *Mobile internet services are increasingly vital in many low-income
   countries: *In some countries, fixed-line internet access is too
   expensive or inaccessible — that’s why mobile services are critical. The
   index reveals that coverage of 4G networking services grew significantly as
   networks in low-income countries are being upgraded. In fact, the average
   4G coverage rate for low-income countries increased year-over-year from
   9.1% to 17.3%, with particularly rapid expansion in Guatemala (3,935%),
   Indonesia (658.8%), Thailand (366.7%), Zambia (330.6%), and China (244%).
   - *The cost of accessing the internet is falling:* The cost of mobile
   broadband data plans in lower-income countries decreased about 17.3% from
   last year, with Argentina (-89.2%), El Salvador (-76.5%), Tanzania
   (-69.2%), and Ethiopia (-60.9%) experiencing the steepest relative cost
   declines. Overall, however, people are still devoting too much of their
   earnings on internet access relative to their income level. In too many
   low-income countries, it is still not as affordable as the UN 2025 target
   of less than 2% of GNI per capita.
   - *There is still much work to be done to close the gender gap: *Across
   the indexed countries, on average, men are 33.5% more likely to have
   internet access than women. The gap is even larger in low-income countries,
   which have an average gender access gap of 80.2% compared with 3.7% among
   high-income countries. This is a sobering finding, but there is evidence to
   be optimistic. Governments have shown the benefits of setting
   gender-specific targets in national digital plans, embedding internet
   access in wider gender equality plans, targeting women in ICT skills
   training programs, and increasing the attractiveness of entering ICT
   professions for women. The study found that the UK, Namibia, and Ireland,
   followed by Austria, Chile, and South Africa, are among the top e-inclusion
   performers of the year, all with female digital skills training plans.
   - *The internet is empowering, especially to citizens in Asia, the
   Middle East, and Africa: *67% of survey respondents believe that access
   to the internet is a human right. Not only do people say that the internet
   helped them become more confident to express themselves, but the majority
   of respondents also say that the internet has helped them become more
   independent and economically empowered. If the ability to use and benefit
   from the internet is unevenly distributed, it could serve to deepen
   - *Privacy and security are top-of-mind:* People want confidence that
   their activity online is private. The data show that concerns about
   security and privacy may limit people’s use of the internet – for example,
   when it comes to making purchases online, only 62.1% of survey respondents
   feel that making purchases online is safe and secure.

Closing the remaining gaps in internet inclusion will require collaboration
among all players. Governments can help on the supply side, enabling new
technologies and networks, and on the demand side, helping foster and
develop e-government, public health, and education applications. Academics,
technologists, civil society, and private companies can continue to extend
the internet’s infrastructure and invent new technologies and applications
that increase access to connectivity and amplify its relevance.

At Facebook, our efforts are focused on expanding and improving
connectivity through a number of initiatives, partnerships, and
technologies. We know there’s no single technology or solution that will
get the job done, which is why we’re focused on a building-block approach —
developing a range of next-generation technologies and programs that can
help bring the cost of connectivity down to reach the unconnected, and
increase capacity and performance for everyone else.

There is still more to do. Identifying and understanding barriers to
connectivity is essential to continued progress in bringing more people
online, and we hope that researchers and policymakers can learn from this
report. Connecting the world won’t happen overnight, but with continued
research and collaboration between governments, policymakers, and
businesses, we remain confident that we can continue our progress toward
our shared goal of closing the digital divide and making the internet more

The full Inclusive Internet Index can be accessed at http://

You can read more about Facebook’s connectivity efforts and our
announcements at Mobile World Congress here

Renata Avila

*Senior Digital Rights Advisor*
renata.avila at webfoundation.org

*1110 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005, USA* *| *
*www.webfoundation.org* <http://www.webfoundation.org/>* | Twitter:
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