Information Technology Policy and the Digital Divide

Information Technology Policy and the Digital Divide

Lessons for Developing Countries

Edited by Mitsuhiro Kagami, Masatsugu Tsuji and Emanuele Giovannetti

The proliferation of new information technologies throughout the world has raised some important questions for policymakers as to how developing countries can benefit from their diffusion. This important volume compares the advantages and disadvantages of the IT revolution through detailed studies of a variety of developed and developing nations and regions: Argentina, Estonia, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and the USA.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Mitsuhiro Kagami, Masatsugu Tsuji and Emanuele Giovannetti

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict


Mitsuhiro Kagami, Masatsugu Tsuji and Emanuele Giovannetti 1. QUICK CHANGES IN ‘IT’ Information technology (IT) has greatly changed our society and this change is indeed worth calling the ‘third industrial revolution’. Basic trends can be observed in the IT revolution in terms of structural changes. That is (1) from telephony to the Internet; (2) from fixed to mobile telephone; and (3) from narrowband to broadband. In the near future, the next trend will be multimedia convergence, in other words (4) from TVs to personal computers (PCs) if TVs have the digital broadcasting function. Also, it has been pointed out that diffusion of the Internet depends on three factors: availability; accessibility; and affordability. Availability means the network’s penetration into households. Accessibility focuses on providing access points such as public telephones and community Internet access sites. Affordability is measured in terms of price of connection. Technological changes in IT have been quickly advancing beyond people’s imagination. Demand for broadband access (digital subscriber line or DSL, asymmetric digital subscriber line or ADSL, and CATV) is intense and growing while lower technologies such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), have quickly become obsolete. The third generation mobile phone is now on sale and people can enjoy photos and moving pictures through these cellular phones. Wireless networks such as Bluetooth, home servers and wireless LAN make our lives more convenient as electronic home appliances can be connected to mobile phones. The convergence of broadcasting and the home computer is taking place and TVs will function...