Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

Global ICT Statistics on Internet Usage, Mobile, Broadband: 1998-2009

16 September 2010 6 comments

How are ICT diffusion rates changing over time in different parts of the world?  The graphs below present ITU statistics for mobile, internet and broadband, dividing countries into quintiles by GDP per capita levels, and weighting the calculated averages within each quintile by population.  They extend earlier data visualisations using Google motion chart for mobile phone and broadband penetration.

Mobile: a real sense of catch-up by the “rich” and “middle-income” countries during the mid-2000s, the former now having higher subscription rates than the “richest” countries due largely to the USA’s sub-100-per-100 statistics.  Catch-up is only just starting to happen for the poorer countries, and there’s a reminder that “mobiles are everywhere” isn’t true yet: e.g. we’ve all heard of Pakistan’s amazing growth rates but the next largest country in the bottom category is Ethiopia whose 80m citizens register less than five subscriptions per 100 people.  For fans of diffusion theory, some clear S-curve shapes on view, though a slightly worrisome dip in growth rates for the poorest countries from ’08 to ’09.  (For notes on converting mobile subscription rates to actual ownership and use rates in developing countries: see this earlier blog entry.)

Internet: still a significant gap between the richest countries and all the rest, which have a mix of larger-country stars (VietNam, China) that punch above their category averages, and dogs (South Africa, India) that fall well below.  Due to spillover effects – e.g. an Internet user passing on web-based information to a non-user – the impact of the Internet is well above what these raw figures indicate.  And poor/middle-income countries will pass the 50 users per 100 marker in just a few years.  Growth rates in the poorest countries are strong – around 25% per year – but their low base means progress is slow.

Broadband: if the Internet figures are a little salutary, then the broadband stats are more so, with the poorest countries barely figuring.  Mobiles are helping to create Development 2.0 – the ICT-enabled transformation of development processes and structures, but broadband will also be key, and it looks a very long way off for the world’s poor.  (Note poor countries average above middle-income due to China’s aggressive broadband roll-out policy, though are held back by India’s pitiful penetration rates of roughly two-thirds of a subscription per 100 people.  Middle-income countries look likely to overtake in the next year or so.)

Global Digital Gap and Digital Lag

One way to summarise the situation is to look at the difference between the poorest and richest quintile countries.  As the graph shows, the “digital gap” between average penetration rates has grown and grown during the 2000s for Internet and broadband.  For mobile it began to close from 2006 onwards, but still remains very high.

You can also measure “digital lag“: the time gap between a given average ICT penetration level in the poorest countries, and the year that was achieved in the richest countries.

Current digital lag is just under 10 years for mobile, and something like 14-15 years for Internet.  For broadband, it’s just over 10 years but the figures are so low that this may not be meaningful.

Future digital lag can be calculated by projecting growth in the poorest countries, assuming current growth rates (averaged 2004-2009) continue.  For mobile, it will be 2011 before the poorest countries reach the 75 subscriptions per 100 level that the richest countries were at in 2004; a digital lag of 7 years (though that rises to 2013 and 9 years if you extrapolate from just 2008-to-2009 growth rates).

For Internet, it will be 2019 before the poorest countries reach the 50 users per 100 level that the richest countries were at in 2002; a digital lag of 17 years.  For broadband, it will be 2020 before the poorest countries reach the 15 users per 100 level that the richest countries were at in 2005; a digital lag of 15 years (but with a wide margin for error, and calculated only on 2008-to-2009 growth rates).  Put another way, there are no signs yet of the digital lag for Internet or broadband closing over time, and not much evidence for the idea that digital lag is shortening with each new ICT innovation.

I’m sure there are other conclusions to be drawn from the data – do please go ahead.  All of the original data is available from the following spreadsheet: [you’ll need to log in to Google in order to guarantee access]

Broadband Penetration Over Time: Data Visualisation with Google Motion Chart, Gapminder and Excel

13 December 2009 2 comments

I’ve entered the ITU data on broadband penetration for all countries from 1998-2008 into a Google Docs spreadsheet, and then added the Motion Chart visualiser.

To access the spreadsheet data and Google Motion chart, go to:

The screenshot below gives an example. Also given below are two screenshot summary graphs derived from overview data about diffusion rates for broadband, which can be found at:

The most useful statistics are absolute growth rates (weighted by population), which show growth having peaked in 2005 for the richest fifth of nations, but generally still rising for the others. The percentage growth rates have been steadily declining, but mainly because those growth figures are insanely high in the first few years of broadband diffusion given the very low base they start from.

You can find similar visualisations that you can cross-match with a host of other data categories (demographics, economic/social development, and ICT diffusion) using World Bank data ( or a graph I’ve created at Gapminder: But these don’t go up to 2008, and you can’t see or access the underlying data.

Note the dynamic visualisation charts will not show up on slower PCs or Internet connections.

For similar data visualisation of mobile phone penetration, see my earlier blog entry at:

Mobile Phone Penetration: Google Motion Chart Data Visualisation

30 November 2009 7 comments

I’ve entered the ITU data on mobile phone penetration for all countries from 1998-2008 into a Google Docs spreadsheet, and then added the Motion Chart visualiser (the same engine made famous by Hans Rosling and TED, though they use the Gapminder Trendalyzer version).

Unfortunately, WordPress scripting rules mean I can’t post the active chart here. To access the spreadsheet data and Google Motion chart, you need to go to:

Screenshots below give an indicator of how you can visualise the data. The chart offers three main means to visualise (bubble, bar chart, and line graph) via tabs at the top right. You can change the axes and element colouring/size, and highlight individual countries. For bubble and bar, the main point of the chart is that you can click play (bottom left) and show how things change over time. (Note playback speed variation control, and also the ability to drag over and zoom in on parts of the chart.)

Not sure it adds a lot of analytic value but it’s engaging, helps give a sense of some overall trends, and identifies some interesting outliers. (Some older PCs and low-bandwidth connections will struggle to display.) I’ll repeat for other ITU data in later posts (e.g. broadband data visualisation here). You can find similar visualisation for mobile, Internet and a host of other development data at: (though currently up to 2007 only, no obvious access to underlying data, and the mobile data display doesn’t seem to work properly).  And, finally, on a separate blog entry you can find a set of rough converters to change mobile phone subscription data to data on ownership, access, use and non-use.

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