Denmark pips South Korea for ease of mobile and internet access, while Britain comes fifth in annual ranking
Denmark has been named the world’s “most connected” country based on mobile phone and internet use.
Scandinavia dominated this year’s rankings, with Sweden in third place, followed by Iceland in fourth, Norway sixth and Finland eighth. Britain came fifth.
They were compiled as part of a report by the International Telecommunication Union – the Information and Communication Technology Development Index (IDI), which rates 166 countries according to their level of access to, use of and skills in using information and communication technology.
Hong Kong was the ninth most connected country, coming in ahead of Japan in 11th place, while Luxembourg completed the top 10.
Other countries in the top 30 included the US (which ranked 14th), Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, France, New Zealand, Estonia and Macau, as well the principalities of Andorra and Monaco.
The 10 least connected countries were all in Africa, with the Central African Republic being the worst, followed by Niger, Chad, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
All countries were shown to have improved their IDI values in the last year, while the nations with the “most dynamic” improvement in ranking included the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Georgia. Improvements were said to have been driven mostly by better wireless broadband connection.
Europe proved to be the most connected region, scooping up eight of the top 10 rankings, while Africa had the lowest regional ranking. The continent, however, did show a mobile broadband growth rate of more than 40 per cent in 2014 on last year.
Nearly three billion people globally will be using the internet by the end of this year, up by nearly 40 per cent on last year. But 450 million people still don’t live within reach of a mobile signal, while 4.3 billion people are not connected to the internet – with 90 per cent of those living in developing countries, the report said.
Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel’s technology expert Donald Strachan outlined the “ world’s Wi-Fi-friendliest cities ”, featuring various countries from the top 40 of this year’s IDI report.
Connecting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki is password-free and easy thanks to a network of hotspots in public buildings, civic squares and even on some buses and trams around the city.
Hong Kong, “one of the world’s most futuristic cities”, was said to be generous with free internet access in public areas. There are several free Wi-Fi networks, the key ones being GovWiFi (at parks, libraries, public buildings, ferry terminals and more) and MTR WiFi, which provides 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi per device up to five times every day at MTR stations.
Taipei offers 30 days of free access to a national, government-backed network of over 5,000 hotpsots. Hundreds of these free iTaiwan hotspots are available throughout the Taiwanese capital.
Macau was noted for its WiFiGo service which offers free internet for visitors every day between 8am and 1am. The network has around 150 hotspots, meaning there’s usually Wi-Fi close by, including at ports, museums and tourist information centres.
Other major cities with free public Wi-Fi access include New York, Paris and Perth, Australia, as well as Florence and Tel Aviv, which has eighty hotspots dotted around its centre.
Access to free Wi-Fi has been an increasingly important factor for travellers around the world, especially when booking a hotel. Britain’s hotels were found to be among the worst in Europe for free Wi-Fi access, while the two best performing cities were both Swedish – Malmö and Gothenburg, where 98 per cent and 96 per cent of hotels were found to offer free Wi-Fi, a survey by the travel search engine KAYAK earlier this year revealed.
A new website aiming to help travellers in the search for free and fast wireless internet access was introduced earlier this year. Hotewifitest.com lets hotel guests test the speed of their internet connection, and then stores the results for others to view. It also records whether the Wi-Fi is free or comes at a price.
Several airports around the world also offer free Wi-Fi services, with Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas being among the best, providing free Wi-Fi in all five of its terminals since 2012. Since upgrading its former paid network, the number of daily Wi-Fi connections has risen from 2,000 to 55,000. Helsinki Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol complete the world’s top five for airport Wi-Fi quality.
Earlier this year, Britain’s biggest airports have been criticised for failing to provide passengers with unlimited Wi-Fi access.
None of Britain’s six busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton – offer unlimited free internet access, according to a study by Skyscanner, the flight comparison website.