Meeting the Global Broadband Challenge
Perhaps in the UK we enjoy complaining, but we all too easily forget how easy we have it in the digital age, with the range of speed, choice of provider and low price of broadband. A £20 a month service equating to just 1% of the average salary, and that is not the cheapest broadband deal in the UK. Thus we should consider our position globally as a UN Commissions sets targets for broadband across the world.
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is setting four targets in an attempt to ensure that no single country is left out of the digital age.
- 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.
- 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).
- 3.Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
- 4.Getting people online. By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Communication - a Human Need and a Right
Broadband technologies are fundamentally transforming the way we live. It is vital that no one be excluded from the new global knowledge societies we are building. We believe that communication is not just a human need - it is a right. The greater communication and understanding made possible through access to information and communication technologies (ITCs) can help us overcome the challenges in our complex and interdependent global society.Extract from The Broadband Challenge
A key point is that this communication should also be possible in local languages, and not simply translation of global content, but for countries to stimulate local content production.
This new global challenge was announced at the ITU Telecom World 2011 sessions in Geneva, with the ITU to take a central role and produce an annual report with the rankings of nations worldwide in terms of broadband policy, affordability and uptake.
The UK average wage is some £25,900 per year, so the 5% affordability measure equates to a service costing around £100 a month. UK broadband services started at around £50 a month in 1999/2000, but now can cost as little as £3.50 a month.
The UK has a raft of experience in getting first and next generation solutions available to the vast majority of the UK population, and thus may be able to export expertise. Some may disagree and while the UK has been late in starting its roll-out of superfast broadband solutions up and running, it is catching up very fast, and may surpass some other countries where roll-outs have stalled due to the problems of covering rural areas.