Thursday, July 26, 2012

Updated Cuban ICT statistics

Cuba’s National Office of Statistics and Information (ONE) released their annual report on Information and Communication Technology in June, 2012. The Internet-related statistics shown here indicate relatively little change. let’s consider each of them.
  2010 2011 Increase
Number of computers (thousands) 724 783 8%
Number of networked computers (thousands) 434 470 8%
Number of Internet users (thousands) 1,790 2,610 46%
PCs/1,000 capita 64 70 9%
Internet users/1,000 capita 159 232 46%
Number of .cu domains 2,225 2,285 3%
Mobile telephone subscribers (thousands) 1,003 1,315 31%
% of population with mobile access 78 78  
The report showed a 46% gain in Internet users in 2011, but only an 8% gain in the number of networked computers, indicating increased sharing of computers in public access points or homes and offices. We should also bear in mind that Cuban Internet access is not comparable to that in the developed world. Users are online relatively few hours per month and nearly all access is over dial-up connections, making access to modern Web sites and other applications unfeasible. Most accounts are restricted to domestic traffic.

The new figures reveal a lack of investment. There was only a 3% gain in the number of domains registered in the .cu top level domain, indicating that few new enterprises or other organizations created Web sites or other network applications. The fact that no increase was reported in the percent of the population with access to mobile phones indicates little investment in infrastructure.

The most positive figure may be a 31% increase in mobile phone subscribers, but we should bear in mind that Cuba has second generation phones, used for conversation and text messages, not the smart phones that are increasingly used as pocket computers and Internet access devices in developing nations.

I understand that these figures are government supplied and definitions of indicators vary among agencies like ONE and the ITU, but presumably ONE's 2010 and 2011 methodology is the same. I'd welcome discussion of and alternative interpretations of these and other statistics.