WBA study: London is the world's 'most connected major global city'
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

An independent research study commissioned by the Wireless Broadband Alliance has revealed that London is the most connected major global city with eight per cent of the population unconnected, while 57 per cent of the global urban population remains unconnected.

The study found that levels of income are closely linked to broadband adoption rates, but also other aspects play a role such as age, access to computers and computer literacy. Europe has the lowest percentage of urban unconnected at 17 per cent, while the Middle East and Africa has the highest proportion of urban unconnected citizens at 82 per cent. More than a third (37 per cent) of unconnected citizens live in some of the world’s wealthiest cities.

The report, undertaken by Maravedis Rethink Research, aims to identify the number of unconnected citizens living in urban areas across the globe, in both developed and emerging economies. Lagos is the least connected city (88.3 per cent) and connectivity still remains a key issue in Europe and North America. The lack of urban connectivity can be attributed to a number of technological and political challenges, from low levels of income to the high cost of fixed and mobile services.

Other regional insights from the research include:

  • Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of people in North America have no broadband connection. In Los Angeles, 24.9 per cent of citizens don’t have a broadband connection
  • Just over two thirds (68 per cent) of people in Asia Pacific have no broadband connection, while 55 per cent of people in Latin America are without broadband.

For Europe and the UK there is a “neat balance” between availability and affordability said Ton Brand, senior director marketing and industry development at the Wireless Broadband Alliance.

“BT has done a great job because it put down fibre,” added Brand. “The social distinction in the UK between the lower ranged salaries and the higher ranged salaries is not that large [when compared with that seen in other cities].

“What we will probably do in the future is have a more detailed breakdown into the average cost of subscriptions, so that we can make a more detailed analysis on availability versus affordability.”

“There is a clear divide between the digital haves and the digital have-nots,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “While this divide generally mirrors socioeconomic trends around the world, there are surprisingly high levels of urban unconnected citizens in major cities.”

The methodology for estimating the proportion of urban unconnected citizens took data about population from the same surveys about Internet use or from national censuses or official population estimates conducted by the governments of the countries where the cities are located. To maintain consistency and comparability, the year of reference considered in all cases was not earlier than 2014. When the last year available was earlier than 2014, available data about the population growth rate and the Internet use growth rate was used to estimate the figure for 2015.

With regard to the urban feature, this was defined according to each of the governmental criteria of how the respective metropolitan area is composed. This refers to the municipalities, counties, or prefectures that belong to each metro Area. Therefore, their respective populations were considered to estimate the urban unconnected in each city.

The data about the primary reasons for not having access to broadband was obtained through surveys, censuses, and official statistics compiled by the respective national governments. The average income was either obtained from statistics reported by city governments or estimated based on the average wage reported by the official statistics of each national government.

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