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Pacific Island States
A cursory look at the geography of the Pacific Island States would suggest that any technology that could enhance communications among these island states and with the rest of the world would be critical. The situation, however, is far from rosy. In terms of the ICT Opportunity Index, they all fall behind the Asia Pacific average and only French Polynesia and New Caledonia hover around the global average—the former slightly ahead, the latter slightly behind. All other states fall considerably short of the global average (Figure 5). In Networks (not shown, as it is not fundamentally different), all countries are below the regional and global averages.
Among the island states in this group, New Caledonia leads in main lines, cellphones (with a much higher penetration than
the others at 56.7 per cent—up from 31 per cent in 2001) and Internet penetration (Table 2). In terms of levels, main lines are relatively high also in French Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji. Cell-phone penetration is once again the success story as it has taken off more than any other ICT, most dramatically in Tonga, which from near zero in 2001 achieved a penetration rate approaching 30 per cent by 2005. Big increases were also recorded in Samoa and Micronesia from near-zero levels. French Polynesia leads in PCs, albeit with a modest 10.9 per cent penetration—significantly lower than the global average. American Samoa and French Polynesia have very high penetration of TVs. French Polynesia and New Caledonia are also the only countries with some broadband—although bandwidth in the islands is very low compared to the global average.