Study: Nordic countries lead broadband penetration

Australia may be increasing its broadband penetration, but it is falling behind Scandinavia in the information revolution, according to new research from analyst group IDC.

The company said that Nordic countries once again dominated its annual index of top IT nations, while the U.S. and the U.K. barely scrape into the top ten.

IDC's Information Society Index (ISI) measures the abilities of 53 nations to participate in the information revolution. The Index claims to quantify a nation's ability to "access and absorb information and information technology" based on four key areas: computers, Internet, telecom services and receptivity to technology. Factors considered include PC and Internet usage, e-commerce, telecommunications infrastructure, broadband and wireless subscribers, education levels, press freedom and government corruption..

The results show that technology adoption tends to increase along with levels of civil liberties and education, said David Emberley, a senior analyst with IDC's Worldwide IT Markets and Strategies group. The exception was adoption of wireless technology, which is growing faster in less developed economies. "There seems to be a loophole where wireless adoption is concerned. This is one area in which consumer adoption has been strong even in some of those countries with lower overall scores for social freedoms," Emberley said.

The U.K. scraped into tenth place, although its communication structure ranked only 22nd, putting the U.K.'s use of wireless and broadband below that of the Czech Republic and Australia.

However, it should be noted that the Index is based on figures for 2002.

The Index named Sweden the world's top information-compatible nation for the fifth year running. Scandinavian countries generally scored highly; the region's four nations grabbed four of the top five spots.

Sweden's high score is partly explained by the country's high adoption of wireless technologies: IDC report that a quarter of all users accessing the Web do so via mobile devices. Mobile services are now subscribed to by 80 percent of the Swedish population, the report said.

The U.S. came in eighth in the research company's rankings. Lowest overall scores on the IDC Index were awarded to Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China and Turkey.

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