Access to internet and computers
The first table shows personal computer availability which is the number of self-contained computers designed for use by a single individual per 100 population. The second table shows internet users who are the number of people per 100 who have access to the worldwide network. In almost all cases this access is via a personal computer either using a dial-up, ADSL or cable broadband access.
Over a very short period, national statistical offices have made great progress in providing indicators of the use of information and communication technology. From an international perspective, the major drawback of official statistics on ICT use is that they remain based on different standards and measure rapidly changing behaviour at different points in time. Most countries use existing surveys, such as labour force, time use, household expenditure or general social surveys. Others rely on special surveys.
Another issue for international comparability is the choice between households and individuals as the survey unit. Household surveys generally provide information on both the household and the individuals in the household. Person-based data typically provide information on the number of individuals with access to a technology, those using the technology, the location at which they use it and the purpose of use.
Statistics on ICT use by households may run into problems of international comparability because of structural differences in the composition of households. On the other hand, statistics on individuals may use different age groups, and age is an important determinant of ICT use. Household- and person-based measures yield different figures in terms of levels and growth rates. Such differences complicate international comparisons and make benchmarking exercises based on a single indicator of Internet access or use misleading, since country rankings change according to the indicator used.
The OECD has addressed issues of international comparability by developing a model survey on ICT use in households/by individuals. The model survey is designed to be flexible; it uses modules addressing different topics so that additional components can be added as technologies reflecting usage practices and policy interests change. The ICT access and use by households and individuals model survey is available on the OECD website.
Penetration rates are highest in Iceland, the Netherlands, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Korea, where 80% or more of households had access to a home computer by 2007. On the other hand, shares in Turkey, Mexico, Greece, the Czech Republic and Portugal were below 50%. Between 2001 and 2007, the percentages of households with access to a home computer increased particularly sharply in France, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The picture with regard to Internet access is similar. In Korea, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, more than 75% of households had Internet access by 2007. In Mexico and Brazil, on the other hand, less than one quarter of the households had Internet access by 2007.
- OECD (2007), OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2007, OECD, Paris.
- OECD (2008), OECD Information Technology Outlook 2008, OECD, Paris.
- OECD (2009), OECD Communications Outlook 2009, OECD, Paris.
- Eurostat (2005), Eurostat community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals, May 2005, Eurostat, Luxemboug.