UN Broadband Commission Sets Ambitous Broadband Targets

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was formed in May 2010 by the ITU and UNESCO.  The goals are to define practical ways in which countries can provide access to broadband networks, in cooperation with the private sector.  

The Broadband Commission believe that broadband networks are a basic infrastructure similar to roads, electricity and water; and is are increasingly the foundation of public services and social progress.  To date they have held four meetings with the most recent on October 25.  At this meeting, the Commission agreed on a set of four targets regarding broadband development and deployment.  

The four targets cover broadband policy, affordability and uptake:

#1: Making broadband policy universal. By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access/Service Definitions.

As of 2010, 99 developing countries (out of 144) has a UAS definition.  Of those, 49 had included Internet dial-up and 36 has included broadband.

#2:  Making broadband affordable. By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (for example, amount to less than 5% of average monthly income).

Broadband access cost less than 2% average income in 49 economies in the world , but in 32 economies, broadband access cost more than half of average national income. In developing economies, broadband access cost less than 5% average monthly income in 35 out of 118 (data based on fixed broadband only).

#3: Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access. This target includes access via both fixed and mobile networks.

At the end of 2010, two-thirds of households in developed countries had Internet access, compared to 16% of households in developing countries.

#4: Getting people online: By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in LDCs (least developed countries)

Based on users (not households), Internet penetration stood at 21% in the developing world and just under 5% in the world’s least developed economies (LDCs), at the end of 2010.

I certainly applaud the targets, but there remains little guidance on how to fund the deployment of broadband and then how to pay to maintain it – particularly in those developing countries where poverty is rampant.  It also stopped short of specifying speed goals, despite the fact that there is alot of rhetoric regarding applications (e-health, education, energy, etc.) that could and should be supported.

Nonetheless, there is alot of interesting information available on the site (http://www.broadbandcommission.org) , including some interactive tools  via the Broadband Portal that provide a wealth of insight into global broadband, based on ITU statistics.

#broadband #regulatory

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