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Broadband penetration soars as prices plunge around the world

The International Telecommunication Union has taken its annual pulse of the “information society”, to see where we stand now.

What’s certain is the continuing growth and increasing penetration of information and communications technologies. With the saturation of mobile-cellular uptake, the focus is returning to high-speed Internet access.

Uptake continues to accelerate worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband Internet services. The average drop is over 50 percent worldwide in two years, when comparing 2008 to 2010 tariffs. On average, fixed-broadband penetration in developed countries has climbed to almost 24 percent by the end of 2010.

“Countries without affordable broadband access run the risk of falling behind in the global information society, and I hope that this report will prompt policy-makers to look into ways of lowering ICT prices,” writes Brahima Sanou, an ITU director. In developing countries, broadband costs on average the same as the average monthly income, compared to 1.5 percent in developed countries.

“Policy-makers should act swiftly to facilitate the spread of broadband and ensure that broadband services are fast, reliable and affordable.”

The Island is not assessed in the report, but a 2009 survey of individual and business users by the government’s department of e-commerce found the “state of ICT in Bermuda is healthy”. This upbeat analysis is based on a residential survey of 401 residents and 204 business professionals. Of those residents who had Internet access, 85 percent had a high speed connection.

One regular local critic of the way Bermuda’s telecoms scene is the writer of the RdisTech email newsletter. He refuses to disclose his name to me, but his usual take on the situation and the ITU report is that: “Bermuda is equivalent to the Third World when making comparisons.” He notes that broadband prices have dropped elsewhere, but are steadily rising in Bermuda, and observes that speed and quality are not an issue on the Island.

His beef is with the telecommunications regulator, which he claims has “not placed any guidelines for delivery or expressed they even care customers are not getting what they pay for”. Well, whether the criticism is fair or not is hard to say. Perhaps RdisTech can explain himself further and back up the claims with examples, along with his identity.

***

The gamification of business processes continues apace as I noted in a three part article a couple months back. Gamification has also extended to science. Dr Firas Khatib at the University of Washington reports that he led a study in which online gamers solved in three weeks a molecular biology problem that stumped scientists for more than a decade.

The gamers played Foldit, an online game in which players collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. The discovery opens the way to new AIDS drug design, he says.

“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Dr Khatib said. The results are in a paper published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, with the scientists and gamers listed as co-authors.

Foldit was created by computer scientists at the university. New players first get tested on their ability to work in 3-D by working at a basic level until reaching “Rubber Band Reversal” level. They then get to rotate chains of amino acids in cyberspace. You too can join in the fun at http://fold.it/portal.

In the business world I’m surprised to learn that enterprise software maker SAP says it is examining how to gamify its product. For example, SAP plans to put a golf-themed iPad application on top of the task of assigning incoming sales leads to account executives. The golf balls represent the leads, the holds are the sales reps. Other proposals include encouraging employees to share information on recycling, carpools and new bus routes.

“It is absolutely critical for SAP to continue adopting gamification principles in order to reach one billion users,” SAP executive Mario Herger is quoted as saying in Forbes magazine.

Send any comments to elamin.ahmed[AT]gmail.com.

High speed: Broadband penetration is on the increase as prices fall

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Published September 21, 2011 at 10:22 am (Updated September 21, 2011 at 10:21 am)

Broadband penetration soars as prices plunge around the world

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