Digital Economy and Society Index 2018

The "Digital Economy and Society Index" (DESI) report for 2018 was published by the European Commission on 18 May 2018. This report puts Portugal in 16th place in the EU28, one place lower than in 2017. Performance in the various facets of this index is mixed, but "connectivity" has driven performance.

DESI records the progress made by the Member States in terms of digitization to help them identify areas that require priority action and investment to strengthen the development of the single digital market. Five areas are analysed: connectivity, human capital, use of Internet services, integration of digital technologies, and digital public services.

In this context, and specifically with regard to "connectivity", where ANACOM has powers, the report analyses the development of the fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure and its quality. Portugal improved its position in the ranking and is now in 8th place. Broadband is available to all households, with ultra-fast broadband networks (FTTP & Cable Docsis 3.0, at least 100 Mbps) already available to 95% of households. This is considerably above the EU average of 58% and places Portugal, in this individual indicator, in fourth place in the ranking of countries where this type of service is provided. 4G coverage is also 3 percentage points above the EU average (91%).

Still in relation to the basic technologies that support connectivity, Portugal is top of the European ranking of FTTP development, with subscription available to 89% of households - and, unlike most countries, where development mostly occurs at an urban level, it is also available to 55% of households in rural areas.

The report concludes, however, that in this regard the adoption of both fixed and mobile broadband has improved significantly but is still far from the EU average. It should also be noted that it is still in this dimension - "connectivity" - that Portugal has one of the worst ratings. This is in the broadband price indicator, where Portugal's performance has declined in the period concerned, although comparisons are complex since operators tend to sell electronic communications services in convergent packages (i.e. including fixed and mobile Internet and voice services).

As regards the "human capital" dimension (which assesses basic and advanced skills and Internet use) and the "use of Internet services", there is generally an improvement in the indicators considered, although they remain below the EU average. In terms of "integration of digital technologies" and "digital public services", it is concluded that the progress made by Portugal was limited compared to the previous year. In this context, the report highlights that strengthening the digital skills of the population, contributing to the widespread development of the market and preventing the risk of digital exclusion, is a challenge for Portugal.

Overall, the report concludes that Portugal's score increased slightly for the vast majority of the dimensions analysed in DESI: it is growing in 17 of the 34 individual indicators used to compute the integrated index, but progress in these indicators is at a tempo below the momentum of other countries; the performance falls in 7 indicators, while in others it is sustained (or there are new indicators). According to the report's analysis, the weakest performances are concentrated in three variables: prices, open data and take-up of mobile broadband.

At global level, it is also indicated that the EU continues to make progress in the digital area. However, this has proved to be insufficient. On the one hand, there are no signs of convergence at intra-EU level, as the gap between the four most advanced countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands) and the 28 countries has not changed. On the other hand, the four most advanced countries in the EU were overtaken by South Korea, while China gained ground on the EU28 more quickly.

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