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One third of global urban population unconnected

Challenges include limited spending power, lack of availability of technology, lack of awareness of benefits gained from using the internet and IT literacy levels

Moscow has faced specific challenges related to infrastructure
Moscow has faced specific challenges related to infrastructure

Some 1.75bn citizens in the world’s eight richest countries (by GDP) remain unconnected -- with an alarming one third of those (34 per cent) residing in major urban centres, a new study reveals.


The report, by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), serves to highlight that the digital divide remains a global problem, despite the fact, that driving universal connectivity is a common priority for all countries.


The new study, undertaken by IHS Markit, explores the levels of urban and rural connectivity across eight major countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US. It also uncovers the challenges faced and the initiatives being implemented by five of the world’s major cities: Delhi, London, Moscow, New York and Sao Paulo.


In both developing and mature markets, availability of affordable internet services is still an obstacle to connectivity, the report states. Even among those countries with higher average salaries, the existence of economic and social divides significantly shapes the issue of the digital divide:


In New York, one of the greatest barriers to connectivity is the quality and affordability of internet connections;


Moscow has faced specific challenges related to infrastructure, developing an integrated approach to promoting internet adoption, and ensuring a high standard and quality of internet services;


For Londoners, IT skills and an understanding of the benefits provided by being connected are, along with spending power, key challenges to internet adoption.


The report also shows the many benefits and opportunities unconnected individuals miss out, from generating savings to personal development as a result of not having access to information and education services. What’s more, digital inclusion is an engine for economic growth for cities, nations, and businesses of all sizes as it helps to attract investment, start new companies and stimulate innovation.


“Connectivity is now an essential commodity, much in the same category as power and water. Yet many people in some of the world’s major cities are still without an internet connection,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA. “Wi-Fi is playing an instrumental role in helping cities bring wider and more affordable connectivity to its citizens.


“The issue of the urban unconnected is of critical importance the economies and societies around the world. We call on Governments around the world to re-double their focus on connecting the urban unconnected. It’s vital that internet access becomes recognised as a human right, and that all stakeholders involved in the provision of broadband work together to make this happen,” added Shenwai.


Other key findings from the report are:


Delhi and Sao Paulo have the largest number of unconnected citizens with 29 per cent (5,331 million) of the population of Delhi unconnected; 36 per cent in Sao Paolo, (4,349 million) are unconnected;


London is the most connected city, with just 7 per cent of citizens unconnected (625,336);


One fifth (19 per cent) of people in New York City are unconnected (1,600 million), while 17 per cent of people in Moscow are unconnected (2,154 million).


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