The digital divide continues to worry despite the reduction in the price of telecommunications services

The digital divide continues to worry despite the reduction in the price of telecommunications services

The most recent report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU – ITU) reveals that prices for telecommunications services have been declining worldwide. However, although the reduction is significant, barriers to Internet access still exist, especially in developing countries. At issue are the low quality of the connections, as well as the lack of digital skills and online content in certain languages.

The study shows that operators in 70 countries have a mobile data plan, calls and SMS with more affordable prices, corresponding to less than 1% of gross national income per capita. In 37 countries, the figure is around 2%. The ITU indicates that in the vast majority of markets, telecommunications plans that combine mobile data with calls are cheaper than packages that contain separate services.

The report also reports a reduction in the prices of mobile data plans between 2013 and 2019. On average, the value of a 1.5 GB data package decreased from 8.4% of gross national income per capita to just 3 ,2%. Fixed Internet plans continue to be more expensive than mobile packages. Although prices have remained relatively high over the past four years, the speed promised by operators continues to increase.

While there are still barriers that need to be overcome, progress has been made with regard to the goals set by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development for 2025. However, there are 9 developing and 31 underdeveloped countries where the price of broadband services is still higher than 2-5% of gross national income per capita.

In times of pandemic, the Internet has become even more essential for our lives, allowing us to communicate with friends and family at a distance, work or study at home and have access to information about COVID-19. But there are still 3.6 billion people "disconnected", and Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary General, says that, in this context, it is important to ensure that consumers with lower levels of income have access to telecommunications services.

On May 17, the date on which Telecommunications and Information Society Day was marked, the theme chosen for this year was "Connect 2030", in line with the United Nations' sustainable development agenda

There are five objectives defined to access a better world: Growth, Inclusion, Sustainability, Innovation and Partnerships. Together, the goals contribute to the vision that the UN intends to achieve in the space of 10 years, where all people have access to the same tools of the information society, under conditions of equality.