The UK has joined the world’s top 10 digital economies, taking eighth place from Japan and leap-frogging Hong Kong and Luxembourg.
The UN’s 2013 report on the world’s information society shows South Korea holding its lead, ahead of the five Scandinavian nations and The Netherlands.
The ICT Development Index ranks 157 countries by their level of information and communication technology access, use and skills.
The least-developed countries are the war-torn Central African Republic and Niger, while the most improved are the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Barbados, Seychelles, Belarus.
“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 Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.
“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.”
The International Telecommunications Union, where nations discuss global communications standards and spectrum use, compiles its Measuring the Information Society report every year.
The Nordic lead comes thanks very high rates of broadband and superfast access – more than half of Swedish homes and businesses could get 100Mbps in 2012.
The UK and The Netherlands scored highly for having more than 80 per cent broadband access, and for the launch of 4G services (although we’re behind the Scandinavians).
The report also praised strong regulation for encouraging competition, with Ofcom receiving a nod and the EU’s Digital Agenda recognised for setting ambitious targets.
The UK also came sixth for infrastructure measured by internet bandwidth per subscriber, number of computers and broadband subscribers, beating speedy Sweden.
Unfortunately, we’re 33rd in the world for tech skills reflected by adult literacy and enrolment in secondary or higher education – beaten by Russia, Italy and Barbados.