15 nations, 15 ways: the many roads to the Networked Society

The emergence of the Networked Society means people all around the world are demanding more in terms of ICT infrastructure and internet-enabled services. A new review of 15 countries looks at the different ways governments are using ICT to transform their nations.

The Ericsson-commissioned review by researchers Cullen International shows that governments’ priorities and strategies for ICT transformation are shaped largely by their political aims and the country’s level of ICT development. At earlier stages of ICT development, countries focus more on supply-side initiatives, building network infrastructure and encouraging widespread internet usage. More ICT-advanced countries focus more on demand-side policies (such as e-health, e-education and e-government) and integrating ICT into the national development and competitiveness reform agendas.

All the countries reviewed have national strategies for guiding their efforts – national broadband plans, digital nation initiatives – as well as government decrees, initiatives for specific sectors and implementation programs.

These plans all include target levels of some form, covering areas such as infrastructure, adoption and integration. The review warns, however, against focusing too closely on hard metrics such as international "league tables" for broadband performance at the expense of softer, more qualitative aspects that reflect the true adoption and integration of ICT into a country’s essential private and public sectors, economy and society.

Management of national plans can also vary, with some countries relying more on government control and funding, and others placing greater emphasis on private funding and commercial activities. Governments always play an important role, however, in coordinating initiatives, monitoring progress and driving development towards the national goals.

Rene Summer, Director of Government and Industry Relations, says Ericsson sees ICT as vital for the development of societies. "ICT, and particularly mobility, broadband and cloud, are essential means for change makers to take people, business and society forward. This review and initiatives like our guide for policy makers on Networked Society transformation are ways we are sharing global insights into how governments and other players can advance their nations towards the Networked Society."

Read the report