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Pandemic highlights need to bridge digital divides:OECD27 November 2020

‘Improved Internet connectivity, skills have heled many countries to cope with the health crisis,’ says OECD

The coronavirus pandemic has made it more visible than ever the need to close the digital divides that risk leaving some people and firms worse off than others in a post-COVID world, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Friday.

“Improved Internet connectivity and skills have helped many countries to cope with the health crisis from COVID-19,” the OECD said.

The OECD’s latest Digital Economy Outlook indicates the gaps between and within countries in access to fast and reliable Internet.

OECD countries count roughly twice the level of high-speed mobile Internet subscriptions per inhabitant and three times the level of fixed broadband subscriptions as non-OECD countries, the report said.

"Digital technologies have helped our economies and societies to avoid a complete standstill during the COVID-19 crisis," said OECD Deputy Secretary-General Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen.

Yet he added, the crisis has also accentuated people's dependence on digital technologies and exposed the reality of the digital divides between and within countries.

"We are at a turning point in the digital transformation, and the shape of our economies and societies post-COVID will depend on how well we can progress and narrow these divides."

The digital transformation was accelerating before the pandemic as an increasing number of governments place digital strategies at the heart of their policy agendas.

Average mobile data usage per subscription in OECD countries already quadrupled in the four years to June 2019, and prices for high-usage mobile broadband fell by 59% over 2013-19, according to the report.

As of June 2020, 5G commercial services were available in 22 OECD countries.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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