ITU encourages worldwide broadband plan

The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) just posted a world broadband plan or report to the United Nations. It emphatically makes the case for broadband and asks nations to look at their broadband plans in terms of a 2015 deadline…

Put plainly, we believe the models of the mobile and Internet revolutions can transform global development and have fundamentally thrived because they are bottom-up, market-led models. By forging a common vision and understanding of the needs and requirements for ubiquitous and higher capacity access to the Internet, governments have today an unprecedented opportunity to unleash the creativity.

The report is filled with details that delight every broadband lover both in terms of economic devleopment…

The implications are enormous. International estimates suggest that for every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration we can expect an average of 1.3 per cent additional growth in national gross domestic product (GDP), and we concur with OECD findings that justify rapid broadband roll-out in all OECD member countries. ITU estimates that by 2015 at least half the world’s population should have access to broadband content and communication.

And in terms of cost savings…

In many cases, the social returns of broadband connectivity are potentially much larger than the costs of building networks. Savings in the health sector alone in OECD countries could justify the cost of rolling out a fast broadband network if health costs were to fall between 1.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent as a direct result of having the new network in place. In other words, the inability of all stakeholders to take into account the full social costs and network externalities may lead to nonoptimal provision of services and reduced innovation.

Some recommendations are pretty specific…

We urge national governments not to limit market entry nor tax broadband unnecessarily to enable the market to achieve its full growth potential; to radically rethink the availability of adequate radio frequency spectrum in the broadband era; and to adhere to the guiding principles of fair competition to promote access to all, including fair licensing procedures. At the international level, coordinated standards for interoperability must be established that can grow markets in devices, networks and software through economies of scale and significantly increased user satisfaction.

They also strongly support content creation at the local level and digital literacy programs.

The report gets around offering a goal speed – but they suggest that bandwidth required for applications, always-on, capacity and ability to support multiple users. However I will note that their chart of “what bandwidth is required for what action” started at 56K and went to 100 Mbps. They also noted which counties were aiming for ubiquitous coverage. (The US National Broadband Plan aims for neither ubiquitous coverage nor 100 Mbps by 2015.)

While the report is hard to read (white letters on black background, blue headers, two-column layout), it’s worth the effort. They offer specific advice on how to construct a national broadband policy and then talk about broadband is a means, not an end. Specifically broadband is a mean to reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such as eradicating hunger and achieving universal primary education.

One thing that’s humbling about the report is that while economic development is recognized as a goal and cost is addresses – the other goals really demonstrate how broadband can help countries work together to solve world issues – such as HIV/AIDS and malaria and ensure environmental stability. It kind of puts the price of infrastructure in perspective when you look at the price of not moving everyone forward.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, Policy, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

2 thoughts on “ITU encourages worldwide broadband plan

  1. Pingback: A sensible approach to universal broadband? « Blandin on Broadband

  2. Pingback: Two New Minnesota Broadband Reports « Blandin on Broadband

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