Recent Eurostat report* show that Baltic countries are quickly catching up Western European markets in terms of Internet usage and broadband penetration. Experts say that within five years’ time Baltics will reach the level of e-development currently existing in neighboring Scandinavian countries (just a quick hint: 86% Internet penetration in average across Northern Europe’s markets).
The tag „Baltic tigers” that has been attached to the three CEE states in the past few years due to the booming economies, is getting backed up by a proportional development in the Internet world.
Taking Latvia, almost 60% of its population is already online, according to the Eurostat report. What is most interesting is that the active population between 16-54 years old registers an impressive 76.5% Internet usage rate in average while Generation Y goes beyond 90%, a figure which is comparable to those in Western Europe markets.
Going forward, the # 1 reason to use Internet, is the information search and online services: 97% of all online Latvians indicated this. Next purposes: communication (sending e-mails, chatting) – 90% of all, online banking – 66%, cooperation with public services or administrations (for obtaining information on the home pages of institutions, downloading of necessary forms, submission of filled in forms) – 36%.
Last but not least, broadband usage is seeing a tremendous development: no less than 87% of all households with an Internet connection use broadband connection. The figure records an 11% increase compared to 2008 and twice as large (23%) versus 2007.
On the other hand Tallinn, capital of the neighboring country Estonia, has recently been nominated amongst the best-wired cities in the world, together with „old players” such as San Francisco, Amsterdam or Seoul. The wireless connection is available, virtually, in every corner of this ancient town and it is almost always free of charge.
Estonia is so much into Internet that the free access to the is a basic right guaranteed by Estonian Parliament. All schools, universities and public offices have free Internet connection, 90%+ of all banking operations is done online, population pays taxes and votes using the Internet and WiFi is available for free in most trains.
* The survey was carried out in the 2nd quarter of 2009. 3.9 thsd households with at least one person aged 16 – 74 years were surveyed by sampling, and all persons of this age group living in the household were surveyed.
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