Laos Ranks 111th in the World by Digital Quality of Life

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The fourth annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) reports that Laos is the 7th worst country to live in regarding digital wellbeing. That is out of 117 countries, or 92% of the global population. Out of the five fundamental digital life pillars, Laos’s worst score is for e-government (ranking 115th globally), and the best is for internet affordability (79th). Laos’s e-infrastructure services come 100th, while internet quality and e-security rank 108th and 110th, respectively. In the face of waging inflation, fixed broadband internet has become less affordable worldwide for the second year in a row, prying the global digital divide even further.

The DQL study is conducted by the cybersecurity company Surfshark. It evaluates countries based on five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars: internet quality, e-government, e-infrastructure, internet affordability, and e-security. This year, Laos comes at the lower end of the index, ranking 111st not even making it into the top 100 in the final index. The country ranks 32nd in Asia and has dropped by nine positions since last year’s edition, falling from 102nd to 111st. Out of all index pillars, Laos’s weakest spot is e-government, which needs to improve by 230% to match the best-ranking country’s result (US).

Internet quality in Laos is very weak, and on a global scale fixed broadband internet is better than mobile

Laos’s internet quality, considering internet speed, stability, and growth, ranks 108th in the world and is 35% worse than the global average. Regarding internet speed alone, Laos’s fixed broadband internet ranks higher than mobile in the global ranking, operating at 47.7 Mbps/s (74th globally). Meanwhile, the mobile internet comes 77th (30.8 Mbps/s).

Compared to Thailand, Laos’s mobile internet is two times slower, while broadband is five times slower. Since last year, mobile internet speed in Laos has improved by 7.7% (2.2 Mbps), and fixed broadband speed has grown by 8.4% (3.7 Mbps). In comparison, Singapore’s residents enjoyed mobile speeds up to 104 Mbps/s and fixed to as much as 261 Mbps/s – the fastest internet in the world this year.

Internet in Laos is barely affordable compared to global standards, there’s a lot of room for improvement

Laos’s internet affordability ranks 79th in the world. Residents can buy 1GB of mobile internet in Laos for as cheap as 2 minutes 48 seconds of work per month, 35% less than in Thailand. However, compared to Israel, which has the most affordable mobile internet on the planet (5s per 1GB), Laotians work 34 times more. Its affordability improved since the previous year, making people work 3 minutes 31 seconds less to afford the same mobile internet service.

Fixed broadband costs Laotian citizens around 7 hours 57 minutes of their working time each month. To afford it, Laotians have to work 25 times more than Israeli citizens, for whom the most affordable package costs only 19 min of work monthly. Since last year, broadband internet has become more affordable in Laos, making people work 62 minutes less to afford fixed broadband internet service.  

The global digital divide is now deeper than ever

Globally, broadband is getting less affordable each year. Looking at countries included in last year’s index, people have to work six minutes more to afford broadband internet in 2022. In some countries, such as Ivory Coast and Uganda, people work an average of 2 weeks to earn the cheapest fixed broadband internet package. The same trend was observed last year. With the current inflation, the pressure on low-income households that need the internet has become even heavier. Surfshark’s study also found that countries with the poorest internet connection have to work for it the longest.

“While countries with a strong digital quality of life tend to be those of advanced economies, our global study found that money doesn’t always buy digital happiness,” – explains Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Head of PR at Surfshark. “That is why, for the fourth year in a row, we continue analyzing the Digital Quality of Life to see how different nations keep up with providing the basic digital necessities for their citizens. Most importantly, our research seeks to show the full picture of the global digital divide that millions of people are suffering from.”

The best and the worst countries to live in by the digital quality of life

Overall, 7 out of 10 highest-scoring countries are in Europe, which has been the case for the past three years. Israel ranks 1st in DQL 2022 pushing Denmark to the second place after its two-year lead. Germany ranks 3rd, and France and Sweden round up the top five of the 117 evaluated nations. Congo DR, Yemen, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cameroon are the bottom five countries.

Regionally, the US stands out in the Americas as a country with the highest digital quality of life, while Israel takes the leading position in Asia. Among African countries, people in South Africa enjoy the highest digital life quality. In Oceania, New Zealand takes the lead outperforming Australia in various digital areas this year.