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Mobile internet still much more expensive in low-income countries: UN report

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Dec 01, 2022 - 01:20 AM

GENEVA (AA) – The cost of mobile data plans in low-income countries remains many times greater than in higher-income countries, meaning those who can least afford broadband are paying the most in relative terms, according to a UN report released on Wednesday.

About one-third of the global population remains unconnected to the internet, said the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

According to the latest ITU Facts and Figures report, an annual overview of global digital connectivity and internet use, almost three-quarters of the global population age 10 and over now owns a mobile phone.

Youth between the ages of 15-24 are the driving force of connectivity, with 75% of young people worldwide now able to use the internet, it said.

However, despite making up nearly half of the global population, only 63% of women were using the internet in 2022.

On pricing, the ITU said the global median price of mobile-broadband services decreased from 1.9% to 1.5% of the average gross national income per capita, but still remains too high for the average consumer in most low-income economies.

A basic mobile data plan in these countries was found to cost, on average, 9% of the average income, the report said.

“The internet may be more affordable overall, but for billions of people around the world, it is just as out of reach as ever,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

“We need to keep internet affordability moving in the right direction even as the global downturn cuts deeper into the economic prospects of many countries.”​​​​​​​

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