Hungary 32nd in World on 2021 Digital Quality of Life Index


Vytautas Kaziukonis

Hungary has ranked above the average and close to the top on the Digital Quality of Life (DQL) index compared to 109 countries internationally, but there are still areas of improvement for the country to enhance its digital well-being for both residents and businesses.

Hungary ranks 32nd in the world on the 2021 DQL research carried out by global cybersecurity company Sharksurf. Hungary came 22nd when compared to 38 countries in Europe. The DQL 2021 study covers 90% of the worldwide population and indexes 110 countries by looking at five fundamental pillars of digital life: internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government.

Internationally, the best criteria rankings of Hungary include its broadband speed (8th), broadband internet stability (13th), and mobile internet stability (25th). The country’s worst criteria rankings are mobile speed growth (75th), online services index (52nd), and broadband speed growth (41st).

Hungary showed a stellar performance in many aspects. Internet quality and e-security place it among the top 30 internationally, ranking 29th and 28th respectively. Both pillars are 20% stronger than the global average.

That said, Hungary has fallen seven places back on the index overall from 2020, although the country still comes above the global average. The greatest room for improvement comes in internet affordability, which is the main culprit behind the drop.

“Compared to last year, Hungary’s internet affordability index fell by 55%. Hungarians have to spend almost two hours per month to afford the cheapest broadband internet package, one hour and 33 minutes more than in 2020,” Vytautas Kaziukonis, founder and CEO of Surfshark, tells the Budapest Business Journal.

Kaziukonis lists why internet affordability is an arena worth considering for improvement. Internet connection affordability has a direct impact on the accessibility of the internet. Less affordable internet, therefore, harms the overall digital well-being of a nation, which is a self-generating cycle, he says.

Room for Improvement

While Hungary does slightly better than the global average in all DQL pillars, placing it in the top 40 globally, there are definite areas that could be improved further.

“The country struggles with e-government most and ranks 45th worldwide. It might be helpful to improve this area because better e-government helps to minimize the bureaucracy, reduce corruption, and increase the transparency of the public sector. It also enhances the efficiency of public services and helps people save time, influencing the quality of their digital lives,” Kaziukonis says.

The country ranks fourth in Eastern Europe, lagging behind its Visegrád Four peers; Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. Looking at the weighted Digital Quality of Life score, Poland is 25th, Czech Republic 28th, and Slovakia 29th, while Hungary comes 32nd.

Nevertheless, Hungary did manage to beats the V4 members in weighted internet quality, ranking 29th and ahead of Poland (36th), Slovakia (43rd), and the Czech Republic (53rd).

As mentioned above, where Hungary does score heavily, even in global comparison, is in broadband internet speed, which has improved by 51%, reaching 167.815 Mbps, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hungary’s mobile internet speed also became 25% better and now reaches 44.8 Mbps, according to Kaziukonis.

Effective Mobilization

“Data shows that Hungary managed to mobilize effectively in the face of COVID-19 and was fast to prepare for remote daily life,” the Surfshark CEO says.

The information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and possibilities are sufficient to nurture a healthy business environment in the country. Hungary ranks 39th out of 134 economies on the Network Readiness Index (NRI) 2020, which measures the performance of those states across 60 variables. This ranking, too, suggests a high likelihood for the country to exploit ICT opportunities.

“Those are very important for international business, which is deeply related to the ICT sector nowadays. Also, the Internet usage index is high at 0.89, which means that a reasonable amount of people in the country use the internet,” Kaziukonis tells the BBJ.

“Finally, the Online Services Index (0.75) is higher than the global average (0.71). The index assesses each country’s national website in the native language, including the national portal, e-services portal, and e-participation portal, as well as the websites of the related ministries of education, labor, social services, health, finance, and environment, as applicable. This aspect is vital for foreign investors when dealing with legal issues,” Kaziukonis adds.

About the Research

The 2021 DQL ranking examined a total population of more than 6.9 billion people in terms of five core pillars and 14 underpinning indicators that provide a comprehensive measure, according to Surfshark. The global cybersecurity company registered in the British Virgin Islands and operating with a globally distributed team based in Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania (where the company’s HQ is based), the Netherlands, the Philippines, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study is based on open-source information provided by Freedom House, the International Communications Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, and other sources. “Digital opportunities have proved to be more important than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, stressing the importance for every country to ensure fully remote operational capacities for their economies,” Surfshark CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis says. “That is why, for the third year in a row, we continue the Digital Quality of Life research, which provides a robust global outlook into how countries excel digitally. The index sets the basis for meaningful discussions about how digital advancement impacts a country’s prosperity and where improvements can be made,” the CEO reckons.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of September 24, 2021.

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