Singapore offers the world's lowest rates for making mobile phone calls and surfing the Web, according to a new study by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Released Monday, the report highlighted an index that compared ICT (information and communication technology) developments in 154 countries over a five-year period ending 2007.
The ITU measured the average cost of ICT services, including online browsing, and making fixed and mobile calls, comparing the ICT tariffs in 150 countries. It then ranked the nations based on the relative price of such services.
2. The United States
5. Hong Kong
6. United Arab Emirates
Singapore topped the group of countries offering the lowest cost of ICT services, followed by the United States and Luxembourg. Hong Kong and Taiwan were the only other two economies in the Asia-Pacific region that made the top ten list.
The scores were based on the average income in the countries, where those with a higher national income average paid relatively less for ICT services, said the report.
This showed that ICT services were largely affordable for the majority of people in these countries, according to the ITU. On the other hand, "poor countries, in particular the least developed countries, [have] limited access to ICT infrastructure, including fixed and mobile telephony, Internet and broadband", it added.
Apart from the price scale, the ITU also benchmarked the countries' developments in ICT--measuring access, use and skills, such as literacy levels and household penetration levels.
It found that the most advanced countries on this scale were from Northern Europe, except for the Republic of Korea, which ranked second. Sweden topped the scale, joined by others such as Denmark,the Netherlands and Iceland at the top five.
The report said: "Globally speaking, most progress has been made on ICT access, which includes fixed and mobile telephony, Internet bandwidth, and households with computers and Internet.
"In terms of ICT use, which includes the number of Internet users, fixed and mobile broadband, progress has been much slower. In particular broadband, a more recent technology, still has to take off in many countries."