Hong Kong, Denmark rated tops in mobile Internet

Hong Kong and Denmark are not only taking the best advantage of current information and communication technologies, but also have economies that are most advantageously positioned to benefit from future mobile Internet services such as 3G (third generation), according to a study released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Tuesday.

The U.S. ranks fifth overall in ratings from the report “Internet for a Mobile Generation,” the ITU’s first study of the effects of mobile and Internet technologies on over 200 economies, the ITU said in a statement.

The ITU, based in Geneva, is a specialized agency of the United Nations for international telecommunications standards and technology development.

With mobile communications and the Internet being the two major drivers of consumer demand for telecommunications services in the past decade, the report seeks to explore which countries are taking economic advantage of the convergence of the technologies, the ITU said.

By looking at such areas as infrastructure, usage and market structure-for a total of 26 separate indicators-the ITU has assigned scores of between zero to 100 to each country to create an overall index. For example, in terms of physical network infrastructure, the report looks at how many users of fixed, mobile, Internet, PC, broadband and leased lines a country has per capita, as well as such issues as bandwidth, 2.5G deployment, 3G licence ownership and 3G deployment.

Hong Kong received the highest score of 65.88, followed by Denmark (65.61), Sweden (65.42), Switzerland (65.10) and the U.S. (65.04), the ITU said.

The top 10 of the index was rounded out by Norway (with a score of 64.67), the Republic of Korea (63.42), the U.K. (63), the Netherlands (62.25) and Iceland (62.03).

The ITU sees the timely deployment of high-speed 3G networks as being the key to generating profitable multimedia services followed by the availability of affordable Internet-enabled handsets. And if a country is to benefit from mobile Internet technologies, it must also promote the development of unrestricted and non-proprietary mobile Internet content, the ITU said.

According to the study, teenagers are currently driving mobile Internet usage, especially in highly developed markets such as the Republic of Korea and Japan, though the study warns that advertisers may be ignoring such groups as senior citizens and effectively turning its back on other potentially lucrative segments of the market.

Canada received an 11 th place ranking (with a score of 61.97), followed by Finland (61.22), Singapore (60.58), Luxembourg (58.58), Belgium (57.80), Austria (57.72), Germany (55.53), Australia (55.40), Portugal (55.13) and in 20 th place, Japan (54.94), the ITU said.