According to Information Economy Report-2011, 32 percent of our citizens have access to the Internet. Over the last year alone, Bynet has gained another 500,000 users, to reach almost four million subscribers. However, compared to other countries, there’s still some way to go. In France, 80 percent of residents have Internet access, with the same figure observed in the United Arab Emirates. In the Czech Republic, Qatar and Ireland, 70 percent of people have access.
Some doubt the accuracy of the research, as it is based on data from the Ministry of Communications and Informatisation and from the National Statistical Committee. The former calculates using the number of ports while other sources rely on polls. Moreover, small children are included in the head count, even though they are too young to use the Internet. Gemius Agency offers another approach, ignoring those aged under 15; it states that over 47 percent of Belarusians use the Internet.
Those aged over 45 are the least well represented, as we might expect. Some countries are promoting Internet skills via special courses for the over 55s. Some services are also offered online, increasing convenience. For example, in Italy, the top national TV channels can be viewed online, allowing citizens to watch their favourite TV programmes or an important football match regardless of their location worldwide. Public access points also improve people’s ability to go online, especially where services are provided free of charge. In Belarus, wireless Internet connections are still in their infancy, and require payment. Less than half of our libraries are equipped with Internet access while only 3.46 percent of users bother with Internet cafes. Most people still tend to log on at home: 89.99 percent.
Mikhail Doroshevich, the Head of Gemius Belarus, notes, “The number of those using a modem connection is falling, while the number of those using wireless signals has risen. Other regions of Belarus are catching up with the capital regarding their share of users.”
The Internet is a useful tool but remains expensive. However, although many technical components are imported, tariffs have only risen slightly, with the biggest price hike standing at just 15 percent. Since the beginning of this year, currency prices have tripled and, of course, no one provides services at a loss. Does this mean that, a year ago, we were paying too much for the Internet?
Of course, the development of the Internet should not lag behind the needs of society, the state or business. It needs to stay one step ahead, while stimulating the intellectual and technological development of society, the state and business.