South Korea has topped a ranking of ICT development for the third year in a row, with Sweden and Iceland coming second and third respectively.
The ICT development index prepared by the International Telecommunications Union ranks a total of 157 countries on the basis of ICT usage, access and skills.
Frequently cited as one of the world’s most connected countries, South Korea leads the rankings, with a number of countries in Scandinavia and northern Europe also performing strongly.
The UK enters the top ten in eighth position, rising from eleventh place last year, despite lagging other parts of the world on the launch of 4G networks and the rollout of superfast fiber-optic infrastructure.
The ITU notes that all the countries in the top 30 are high-income markets, highlighting the link between income and ICT progress.
However, the US ranked a relatively disappointing 17, despite being home to some of the world’s most prominent tech firms.
The report also identifies a group of “most dynamic countries” recording above-average improvements in ranking over the past year.
The United Arab Emirates heads this list, with Lebanon, Barbados, the Seychelles and Belarus rounding out the top five.
“This year’s IDI figures show much reason for optimism, with governments clearly prioritizing ICTs as a major lever of socio-economic growth, resulting in better access and lower prices,” said ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure. “Our most pressing challenge is to identify ways to enable those countries which are still struggling to connect their populations to deploy the networks and services that will help lift them out of poverty.”
Another headline finding of the accompany ITU report is an 82% fall in the average price of fixed broadband services across more than 160 countries over the past four years.
The biggest drop occurred in developing markets, where fixed broadband prices fell by more than 30% between 2008 and 2011.
The ITU says that Austria now has the world’s most affordable mobile broadband service, with Sao Tome and Principe, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo ranking worst on this measure.
Austria’s telecoms market is frequently cited as one of the most competitive in Europe, where relatively small domestic markets are often home to more than three nationwide providers.