The United States is falling behind other advanced economies in its use of - and access to - telephone and Internet technology, according to a UN report published yesterday.
The US slipped six places to 17th on the UN telecommunications agency's ICT Development Index. It was leapfrogged by countries such as Japan (12), Germany (13) and New Zealand (16).
By 2007, more than 8 in 10 Americans had cell phone accounts compared with just under half the population in 2002, the International Telecommunication Union said in its report.
The number of households with computers and Internet access also increased, to 7 in 10 and 6 in 10 respectively.
But the country where Alexander Graham Bell invented the modern telephone, and which developed what has since become the Internet, lagged behind northern European countries on all fronts.
Sweden, which was ranked first, had more cellular accounts than inhabitants by 2007. More than 80 percent of households in the Scandinavian country had computers and almost as many had Internet connections.
South Korea was second, followed by Denmark, the Netherlands and Iceland. Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Finland and Britain completed the top ten.
Almost a quarter of US households now have fixed line broadband accounts, while almost 1 in 5 Americans have cellular broadband accounts - a technology nonexistent in 2002.
In a measure of how much of people's income went toward making phone calls and surfing the Web, the United States came second after Singapore and ahead of Luxembourg. Americans, on average, pay slightly more than $15 each for monthly mobile and broadband connections, while fixed lines are priced at just under $20 a month, according to the report.
This represents between 0.4 and 0.5 percent of the average American's monthly salary. In developing countries, the cost of any of these three technologies can be as high as 72 percent of average salary.