The digital divide is narrowing as citizens in emerging markets get online via computers and mobile phones, with some regions now on a par with developed nations, a ranking of Web-savvy nations showed on Wednesday.

"Encouraging is the apparent narrowing of the digital divide," said the annual study published by U.S. computer company International Business Machines Corp. and the intelligence unit of British magazine The Economist.

"This is particularly evident in basic connectivity: emerging markets are providing the vast majority of the world's new phone and Internet connections," the study found.

Within China and India, regions such as Shanghai and Bangalore have almost the same level of Internet and mobile phone connections as developed nations, said Peter Korsten, European director at IBM's Institute for Business Value.

"This is the first time we see a level playing field between developed and developing nations in terms of connectivity. It's up to governments to take advantage with education and other initiatives," he said. The survey looks beyond basic connections and also studies how the Internet is being used to improve productivity and reduce costs, including online access to public services.

"Virtually all countries have improved their scores over the past year. The improvement is greater in the lower tiers of the rankings than at the top. As a result, the distance separating the best from the rest has declined," the study said.

Get the full story at Reuters