Spending More, Seeing Less: The Cost of Commercial Internet Access in World’s 24 Largest Cities
In developed countries, many people have Internet access at home, at work, at public libraries and at school. But in many of the largest cities in the developing world, exposure to the World Wide Web comes from commercial Internet access points and cybercafés.
This table shows the cost of using an Internet café for one hour in the 24 largest cities around the world. ((See graphic Portion of Average Daily Income Spent on 1 Hour at Commercial Internet Access Point in 24 Largest Cities, 2005))
Researchers contacted cybercafés in the world’s “mega-cities” to find out how much an hour of interent access cost. ((Download WIA spreadsheet Portion of Average Daily Income Spent on 1 Hour at Commercial Internet Access Point in 24 Largest Cities, 2005)) Researchers contacted at least three internet access points in each of 24 cities, and calculated average values for those cities. This pricing information was then merged with data on GDP (PPP) per capita in 2005 to estimate what portion of an average person’s daily income would go towards an hour of Internet access. ((Staff calculations based on data from:Â World Bank. (2006). World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.))
In nine of the 24 most populated cities, the average person spends at least 10 percent of their daily income for an hour of Internet access at a commercial access point (Karachi, Mexico City, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Dhaka, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Lagos). ((Staff Research. (2006). World Information Access Report. Seattle, WA: World Information Access Project, Department of Communication, University of Washington.))Â Some countries have fewer Internet hosts than other countries, and eight of the most populated cities are actually in countries at the bottom quartile for number of Internet hosts. In other words, the people in those eight cities who can afford an hour of access may be able to browse the World Wide Web, but may not find a significant amount of content on hosts in their own country.
Internet users in Manila and Seoul are likely to spend the smallest portion of their average daily income for an hour of access (5 percent), while Internet users in Cairo and Lagos are likely to spend the largest portion of their average daily income for the same amount of time online (20 percent).
Eight of the 24 most populated cities are in countries with proportionally fewer website hosts. This pricing data was then compared with the latest calculations about how many websites are registered with each country in the world. ((Staff calculations based on data from: Zook, M. (2006). Geo Calibration of Domains – Com, Net, Org and Country Coded Top Level Domains.)) Thus, people in London or New York spend a small portion of their daily income on Internet access, and find a significant amount of content in English and of cultural interest. But when people in Cairo or Jakarta spend a large portion of their daily income on Internet access, they find relatively less cultural content on .eg and .id websites.
Certainly the number of Internet hosts a country has does not precisely measure the amount of content available in that country’s language. But as a metric, comparing the number of Internet hosts across many countries allows for a rough gage of relative amount of cultural content available online. Thus, people in London or New York could spend a small portion of their daily income on Internet access, and find a significant amount of content in English and of cultural interest. When people in Cairo or Jakarta spend a larger portion of their daily income on commercial Internet access, they find relatively less cultural content.
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