Last week, we looked at the internet in Eritrea, where just 1.1% of the population are internet users due to factors like poverty, oppression and there being just one telecommunications provider.
At the other end of the scale, the most ‘connected’ nation on the planet is another isolated one, although it’s isolated geographically rather than politically. As of December last year, every single person living in Iceland is now classed as an ‘internet user’.
This is staggering really. Most of us have that elderly relative or neighbour who stubbornly shuns modern technology and thinks the web is nothing more than something spiders are weaving in his loft. According to the data pooled together by Internet Live Stats, such a phenomenon does not exist in Iceland and all 331,788 of its people are able to get on the internet at home.
So, what makes this Scandinavian nation the opposite of Eritrea in terms of connectivity?
Excellent fibre deployment
Iceland has long been a world leader in internet deployment, and at the end of last year, it was confirmed to have more homes directly connected to fibre than any other country. In capital city Reykjavik, 100% of homes have a fibre connection, and the nationwide figure is 75%. Considering how isolated some of Iceland’s outposts are, and that the centre of the island is largely uninhabitable, this is no mean achievement.
In terms of providers, Iceland has healthy competition. Reykjavik-based Síminn has more than a century of experience providing telecommunication services to the island, and remains the most popular choice, but Vodafone Iceland and 365 Media are also common provides to Icelandic homes.
Quality of life
As we discussed last week, internet availability tends to mirror standard of living around the world. Iceland is ninth on the Human Development Index. Its GDP per capita is high (despite suffering a major financial crisis in 2008) and natives enjoy excellent human rights.
A small, isolated country
Due to its relatively small population and lack of neighbouring countries, Iceland needs to stay well connected and fend for itself. Internet availability is perhaps especially necessary in a cut-off nation that can be susceptible to extreme weather, making resourcefulness important.
It should also be noted that nearly two thirds of Iceland’s population live in or around Reykjavik, meaning the majority of homes are clustered in a fairly small area.
Here in the UK, we’re also one of the most connected nations, but some way behind Iceland at 92.6%. Iceland has taught the world some fabulous lessons in recent years on the likes of how to recover from financial chaos, and how to use naturally occurring geothermal energy to heat homes. Perhaps the world should also look north for advice on how to truly embrace the internet?