Residents of Qatar are more connected to the internet than almost any other country in the world, a new UN study has found.
At 88.1 percent, Qatar ranked first in the developing world in terms of percentage of individuals using the internet, and second only to the Republic of Korea (97 percent) for percentage of households with internet, according to the UN Broadband Commission’s State of Broadband Report 2013.
The report, which evaluates broadband network access and affordability, also found that Qatar ranked 10th worldwide in terms of percentage of individuals using the internet, meaning people here are not just connected at home, but also at work, and on their smartphones, laptops and/or iPads.
Qatar is the only MENA country to make it to the top 10, and along with New Zealand, one of the only non-European countries.
Bahrain, however, follows closely with 88 percent penetration, and the UAE is 17th with 85 percent. The US is 24th with 81 percent, and Saudi Arabia was ranked 67th, with about half of the individuals in its country (54 percent) using the internet.
Some left behind
The global average is 35.7 percent, illuminating the stark differences in the number of people online in the developing world versus developed countries.
In a statement, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) secretary-general Hamadoun I. Touré said:
“While more and more people are coming online, over 90 percent of people in the world’s 49 Least Developed Countries remain totally unconnected. Internet – and particularly broadband Internet – has become a key tool for social and economic development, and needs to be prioritized, even in the world’s poorest nations.
Technology combined with relevant content and services can help us bridge urgent development gaps in areas like health, education, environmental management and gender empowerment.”
Though Qatar scored highly in terms of internet usage, it ranked 78th in fixed broadband penetration, and 13th in mobile penetration in 2012, out of more than 170 countries.
According to ictQatar, which is being restructured into the country’s new Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, plans are afoot to increase fixed broadband penetration by the end of 2015.
The installation of high-speed fiber internet across the country is part of that plan.
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Credit: Photo by Mohamed Nanabhay