Thanks for Ann Higgins for the heads up on International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development work on Universal Broadband Targets. As you may recall, the ITU created a world broadband plan in 2010 – with a 2015 timeline. They are meeting next week and in preparation the Broadband Commission for Digital Development has published an open letter. Here are their four key universal broadband targets:
Target 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.
Target 2: Making broadband affordable. By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (amounting to less than 5% of average monthly income).
Target 3: Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
Target 4: Getting people online. By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in LDCs.
I find the 5% average monthly income an interesting statistic. It seems high to me – but I like that there’s a mark in the sand to measure affordability.
The letter itself eloquently highlights two other key points – the need for adoption and for a balance of wired and wireless solutions.
Investments in broadband have a vital role to play, both in moving the global economy back onto a higher growth trajectory, and in generating sustainable social and economic growth. Like water, roads,
rail and electricity before it, broadband is of fundamental importance to the social and economic development of all nations. However, Investments must not be focused only on infrastructure development, – they must also provide for advanced online services, locally relevant content and services, and support for media and information literacy development to address inequity and deliver broadband inclusion for all.
On Mixed Means of Access
While fixed networks continue to provide the necessary backbone and core data capacity, they are complemented by mobile networks and devices that put broadband applications and services directly into the hands of users. High-speed broadband enables online collaboration (including social networking and crowdsourcing), user-generated content, and locally relevant new services to drive innovation, helping to transform people’s lives in both developed and developing countries alike.
Both of these topics have come up in the Minnesota Broadband Task Force and other community broadband discussions that I have attended. I think the ITU always does a good job of offering a high level perspective on street level concerns of broadband. And in that spirit I wanted to include one paragraph that exemplifies that dual perspective. To insure the greatest value of the worldwide network, it is important for all of us to care about their four pillars…
For global broadband roll-out to contribute most to development, human activity must transform information into knowledge that can support individual empowerment and sustainable social and economic development, including institutional and political transformation and the development of knowledge societies that rest on four pillars: freedom of expression; quality education for all; universal access to information and knowledge; and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity. Broadband development cannot be limited to technical infrastructure; the availability of relevant broadband enabled content, applications and services in multiple languages should also be ensured.