Taiwan ranks 16th among 75 countries and territories in the first Inclusive Internet Index: Bridging Digital Divides report by London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, according to the Board of Science and Technology under the Executive Yuan May 12.
Published in March, the EIU index assesses the degree to which an economy enables the adoption and beneficial use of the internet. Countries are rated in 46 indicators across the four categories of affordability, availability, readiness and relevance.
With a score of 79.7 out of 100, Taiwan places fourth in Asia, trailing Singapore at No. 1, Japan at No. 5 and South Korea at No. 6. Sweden tied for first place globally, followed by the U.S. at No. 3 and U.K. at No. 4. Congo, Niger and Liberia rounded out the rankings, in that order.
According to the report, Taiwan leads the world in average fixed broadband latency, average mobile latency and ensuring internet access for women. It also obtained top scores in 17 other indicators, including existence of national broadband strategy, government initiatives to strengthen Wi-Fi availability and network coverage.
In response, the BOST noted that bridging the digital gap has long been a major policy priority, adding that a raft of measures have been enacted across Taiwan since 2002 to promote equal digital opportunities. “The latest EIU report represents significant global recognition of the government’s efforts in this regard.”
The EIU index also highlighted areas where Taiwan lagged in the global digital race. It finished 46th in smartphone cost, and tied for 38th in private sector initiatives to make Wi-Fi available and 40th in growth of digital entertainment content. The BOST said it will direct all relevant government agencies to address these issues.
Strengthening digital infrastructure and bridging the urban-rural divide form key components of the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Program unveiled March 23. Budgeted at NT$880 billion (US$29.16 billion), the near-decadelong FIP includes NT$46 billion to accelerate development of an ultra-wideband network so as to provide fast and secure broadband connectivity, promote digital content development and create an advanced e-learning environment, among other goals.