Affordable broadband 'can transform world'
Geneva , September 2, 2010
Huge disparities exist globally in the take up and affordability of broadband, according to statistics compiled by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
With high-speed networks set to transform our world, governments need to put broadband at the top of the agenda, ITU said.
While some 30 per cent of people in wealthy countries in Western Europe now have a broadband subscription, which costs around 1 per cent or less of monthly income, in BRIC countries' penetration is still below 10 per cent and broadband access can cost 5 per cent or more of average monthly income.
In many of the world’s poorest countries, fixed broadband penetration is below 1 per cent and broadband access costs more than 100 per cent of average monthly income.
These figures lend weight to findings soon to be announced in the forthcoming reports of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which urge governments and development agencies to make broadband a top development priority.
“Broadband is today’s truly transformational technology,” says Dr Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general of the ITU. “As with the dawn of other inventions that profoundly reshaped our society, most of us are yet to see the tremendous power and potential of these networks. It’s not just about fast web browsing. Through e-health, e-education, e-government, smart grids, smart transport systems and much more, broadband will power economic and social progress in the 21st century."
ITU’s statistics lend urgency to the Broadband Commission for Digital Development’s belief that high-speed, high-capacity broadband is an essential element in modern society, with wide economic and social benefits, and that broadband will help accelerate progress towards meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.
Dr Touré will present the outcome report of the Broadband Commission to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on September 19, just ahead of the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York.
Dr Touré is also delivering a keynote speech in London tomorrow on “Britain’s digital development and driving international progress” at the Westminster Media Forum seminar on Britain’s Digital Future.
At least 30 countries have now included broadband as part of their universal access/service definition – meaning they consider broadband as a public service to which every citizen should have access. - TradeArabia News Service