An Organization for Economic Cooperation OECD member, it has been awaiting European Union (EU) membership since 1987. As an upper-middle-income economy, Turkey suffers from comparison with these mainly high-income groupings. Its fixed broadband penetration stood at 9.4 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in June 2010 compared to the OECD average of 24.2 and 34% of Turkish homes had a broadband connection compared to the EU average of 61% in 2010.
These statistics disguise the fact that, compared to other countries in its income group, Turkey is doing relatively well. E-government initiatives have been a major driving force for development of the broadband ecosystem. This has triggered demand by enterprises in the ICT sector and motivated citizens to increase Internet usage. Ensuring a shared vision among political leaders and technocrats has also been an important factor in pushing e-government programs. Political leaders saw e-government as a central instrument that would support public reforms and larger changes in the political system. A central organizational structure was formulated to develop strategies and put public money into the pipeline for a set of strategically important projects with high value and high transaction.
The Turkish population has also reacted to social networking in a major way. The country is the fourth largest Facebook market in the world. Turkey’s own social media content is growing and Turkish web sites are becoming more popular and increasingly diversified.
Nevertheless the country continues to face economic and social barriers to effectively absorb broadband technologies on a large scale and better utilize them for leveraging overall economic competitiveness. Fixed broadband competition is limited and dominated by ADSL technology. ICT skill gaps among small and medium enterprises and the less educated need to be adequately addressed with participation of private initiatives. The lack of a suitable national accounting framework for more detailed analysis hinders international benchmarking in ICTs and innovation.
If Turkey can overcome these barriers, the results could be considerable. According to the National Broadband Vision study, broadband could boost economic growth by 0.8-1.7 percentage points per year. This economic momentum enabled by an enhanced broadband ecosystem would create 180,000-380,000 new jobs each year.
This case study is one of an initial series of seven that will contribute to the Broadband Strategies Toolkit, an online resource for policy-makers and regulators, especially in developing countries. The case studies are generously funded by the Korean Trust Fund (KTF) on Information and Communications for Development (IC4D). The KTF is a partnership between the government of the Republic of Korea and the World Bank Group whose purpose is to advance the ICT4D agenda to contribute to growth and reduce poverty in developing countries.