Indicators for the Information Society in the Baltic Region

Norway lags behind in broadband use


The Nordic countries are among the forerunners in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the population, as well as in the enterprises. Broadband connections were least widespread in Latvia and Lithuania, but Norway also lies behind compared with the other countries in the Baltic Sea Region. We also had the lowest share of female employees in the ICT sector.

This is some of the findings in the publication "Indicators for the Information Society in the Baltic Region". The publication covers indicators of the development in the production and trade of ICT, use of ICT by the population and the enterprises, as well as research and employment structure of the ICT sector.

Good infrastructure in the Nordic countries

By the end of 2001 the number of fixed telephone lines in the Baltic region had reached 82.5 mill, corresponding to a total of 54 lines per 100 inhabitants. Norway, Sweden and Denmark were at the forefront with 72 lines or more, while Latvia, Lithuania and Poland had around 30 lines per 100 inhabitants. Germany had by far the highest rate of ISDN penetration with a total of 26 ISDN subscriptions per 100 capita, followed by Norway with 17. Germany also had a very high penetration of cable modems compared with the other countries of the region. Broadband connections were most common in Iceland and least common in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Norway was also ranked low with 1,1 subscriptions (all types of DSL and cable modem) per 100 capita.

ICT use by the population

The number of mobile telephone subscriptions was highest in the Nordic countries at the end of 2001. More than four out of every five inhabitants in the age of 16-74 years had a mobile phone in this area. In Poland the corresponding number was one out of four. Computer access was not quite as widespread, but still around 75 per cent of the population in Denmark, Norway and Sweden had access to a computer at home. In Poland and Lithuania the corresponding numbers were 16 per cent and 18 per cent. A precondition of Internet access is the existence of an infrastructure supporting such access. A large part of those who had access to computer at home, also had access to the Internet.

ICT use by enterprises

The overall rate of enterprises with at least 10 employees using computers in their activities was 95 per cent or more. The share did not differ much from one country to another, but the largest shares of computer-using enterprises were found in the Nordic countries. Nearly 9 out of 10 enterprises had Internet access. Compared with the other Nordic countries, Norway was the least advanced; 81 per cent of all Norwegian enterprises with at least 10 employees had Internet access by the end of 2001, compared with 92-95 per cent in the other Nordic countries. In Latvia around 50 per cent had Internet access, in Russia even fewer.

In Germany and most of the Nordic countries two out of three enterprises had their own homepage. Sweden was at the forefront with 78 per cent, whereas only 55 per cent of the Norwegian enterprises with at least 10 employees had their own homepage. In Russia and Latvia homepages were not widespread, 9 and 19 per cent respectively of the enterprises had their own homepages. High-speed connection to the Internet was generally less widespread than homepages, except in Latvia where 24 per cent had this kind of connection. Iceland was the country where most enterprises had high-speed access, a total of 65 per cent. Only 34 per cent of the Norwegian enterprises had a broadband connection.

The ICT sector is important in the Baltic economy

The ICT sector plays a major role in the economy of the Baltic region. The relative size of the turnover compared with the private sector varied from 6 per cent in Iceland to 16 per cent in Finland. The ICT sector in Norway amounted to 10 per cent of the total turnover compared with the private sector. The relative size of the ICT sector employment varied from around 4 per cent in Latvia to roughly 10 per cent in Sweden. In Norway it amounted to around 8 per cent compared with employment in the private sector in general. Value added is generally a better indicator of the economic importance of a sector. The ICT sector contributed with shares of total value added in the private sector of between 8 per cent in Norway to 21 per cent in Lithuania. ICT consultancy services generated more than one third of the total value added of the ICT sector in Norway, and was thus the single most significant contributor.

Few women in the ICT sector in Norway

The share of females employed in the private sector in general varied from 35 per cent in Sweden to 47 per cent in Latvia. In the ICT manufacturing sector the share of females employed was highest in Lithuania and Denmark (44 per cent). The lowest shares are found in Iceland and Norway (19 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively). ICT manufacturing employs relatively more females than the manufacturing sector in general in most of the countries, also in Norway. The services sector traditionally employs more women than the manufacturing sector. The share of females employed in the ICT services sector was highest in Latvia with 36 per cent and lowest in Norway with 26 per cent. In all the countries fewer females are employed in the ICT services sector than in the services sector in general. Norway turned out to be the country with fewest female employees in the ICT sector in total.

A young workforce - a myth?

The ICT sector is generally believed to have a younger workforce than most other sectors. This was only to a certain extent true for the Baltic region, and it mainly applied to the ICT services sector. Only in Finland and Sweden the ICT manufacturing industry had higher shares of persons below 35 years employed than the manufacturing industry in general, in Denmark and Norway there are no significant differences in the age structure.

Within the services sector Latvia, Finland, Iceland and Lithuania all had much higher shares of young persons employed in ICT services compared with the total services sector. Norway and Sweden on the other hand, had a smaller share of young persons employed in the ICT services sector compared with the services sector in general. Only 15 per cent of the workforce in the ICT services sector in Norway was below 35 years, compared with 41 per cent in the total services sector. The employed persons in the ICT sector had a higher level of education than the persons employed in manufacturing and services in general.

Production and foreign trade with ICT goods

The production of ICT goods compared with total industrial production in 2001 ranged from 0.8 per cent in Latvia to 16 per cent in Finland. In Norway it represented 3.5 per cent. The composition of the national production of ICT goods showed a very heterogeneous pattern. The Finnish and Swedish production of ICT goods was to a large extent concentrated to telecommunications equipment, while electronic equipment was dominating in Lithuania. The Norwegian, Danish, German and Latvian production were more evenly distributed among the different types of ICT goods, even though telecommunications equipment accounted for the largest part of the production, around 3 0 per cent in all three countries.

Only Estonia, Finland and Sweden had an ICT export larger than the ICT import, and Estonia had the largest growth in export of ICT goods in the region. Finland and Sweden seemed to have the relatively highest investments in Research and Development. Norway's imports were twice its exports. The exports were concentrated around telecommunications, while imports were mainly computers.