Newsletter Issue No. 3 2018

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

From 19 to 23 March 2018, the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS) 2018 took place in Geneva and attracted more than 2800 stakeholders from 150 different countries. This year, around 250 content rich workshops and open space talks aligned with the WSIS Action Lines and SDGs. In addition, 18 WSIS Prizes winners and 72 WSIS Prizes champions have been announced. High-Level Track Outcomes and Session Summaries are now available on WSIS Forum 2018 website.

During WSIS Forum Week, on Thursday, March 22nd 2018, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development presented a special dialog session on “Targets 2025: Connecting the Other Half“. The session, moderated by Ms Phillippa Biggs, Senior Policy Analyst at ITU, included representatives from the public as well as private sectors. Chief of Strategic Planning and Membership Department at ITU Ms Doreen Bogdan Martin, Mr Patrick Nyirishema, Director General of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), Mr Paul Mitchell, Senior Director, Technology Policy at Microsoft and Mr Tomas Lamanauskas, Group Director Public Policy at VEON gathered together to discuss the Broadband Commission’s new Targets framework, goals, achievements and future challenges in advancing the understanding of broadband and technology in sustainable development. The session’s summary is available here

UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week 2018 took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 16 to 20 April 2018 under the theme of “Development Dimension of Digital Platforms”. On this occasion, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development organized a special session during which panelists both from the private and public sector addressed the necessity of “Enabling Digital Entrepreneurship through better Connectivity and Digital Skills.” The panel was moderated by ITU’s, Chief of Protocol & Broadband Commission Coordinator Ms Patricia Benoit-Guyot and participants included: Mr. Alex Wong Head, Global Challenge Partnerships & Member of the Executive Committee at WEF; Ms Belinda Exelby, Head of International Relations at GSMA; Mr Sohaib Arshad, Head of Corporate Responsibility, VEON; Mr Daniel Spoiala, Policy Officer, DG Connect, European Commission; Ms Susan Schorr, Head, Digital Inclusion Division (DID), Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), International Telecommunication Union (ITU); and Mr Martin Labbé, Senior Officer, Trade Institutional Development, International Trade Centre (ITC). The panelists agreed that better connectivity and digital skills enhancement is a way forward in today’s digital economy. The summary report from the E-Commerce Week 2018 will be available here.

At the forefront of issues discussed at Mobile Learning Week, which took place in Paris on 26 March 2018, were digital skills, digital divide and gender gap. The annual gathering was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). There are major inequalities in digital skills in both developing and developed countries along a number of lines, especially gender. These need to be tackled by both government and non-state actors by providing programmes and capacity development initiatives for disadvantaged groups, and re-skilling adults at risk for job displacement. In addition, during Mobile Learning Week 2018, ITU along with the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched its Digital Skills Toolkit to support Member States to design national digital skills development strategies for life and work of all citizens in the growing digital economy.

On 27 March 2018, UNESCO released a report on opportunities offered by technologies to address educational needs of refugees during Mobile Learning Week 2018. The report “A lifeline to learning: Leveraging technology to support education for refugees” can be found here.

The very first, special issue of the ITU journal on the impact of artificial intelligenceon communication networks and services was launched last month. The ITU journal publishes original research on telecommunication/ICT technical developments and their policy and regulatory, economic, social and legal dimensions. It is a peer-reviewed, open access, freely available digital publication. The special issue of AI forecasts how it will improve user experience by enhancing the performance and efficiency of communication networks just in time before the 2nd AI for Good Global Summit which will be held at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, 15-17 May 2018.

The International Girls in ICT day was celebrated on 26 April, 2018 at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva. The International Girls in ICT Day is a flagship digital inclusion initiative of ITU and to date, over 300,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 9,000 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 166 countries worldwide. The main objective is to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs. The International Girls in ICT day together with Equals Global Partnership aim to bridge the digital gender divide.


Mr Peter Cleveland

The Broadband Commission has welcomed a new commissioner. Mr Peter Cleveland is Vice President of the Law and Policy Group at the Intel Corporation.  He is responsible for establishing favorable legal, regulatory, statutory and market rules and policies to enable the company’s global business success. Cleveland joined Intel in 2008 from the office of US Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) where he served as Chief of Staff.  Previously, he worked as an attorney for an international law firm.  He received his JD degree from Georgetown University and his BA degree from Columbia University.

Other News and Reports

MTN Nigeria and Huawei have completed commercial deployment of RuralStar 2.0 on 3 April 2018. RuralStar provides low-cost, long-distance voice and mobile broadband for remote areas in Nigeria, helping to connect the unconnected.

ITU released a number of key reports on 26 March 2018. These reports aim to foster and help expand digital transformation. Among them are: “Digital innovation profiles for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.”, “ICT-centric innovation ecosystem country review Republic of Moldova.”, “Good practices for developing, driving and accelerating ICT-centric innovation ecosystems in Europe.”, “Bridging the digital innovation divide: A toolkit for strengthening ICT-centric ecosystems.

ITU is now accepting entries for the ITU Telecom World Awards 2018, recognizing the most outstanding and innovative initiatives around the globe using ICTs for social good. More on the awards can be found here:

On 27 March 2018, UK launched government-backed UK5G consortium with a mission to support the development of the UK as a global leader in the development and adoption of 5G technology.

On 3 March 2018 the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) and Huawei jointly released ‘White Paper on Rural Coverage in Africa’ on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress – in Barcelona, Spain. The white paper appeals to the stakeholders to improve African rural network coverage and gives conductive proposals. It is predicted that providing coverage for 0.4 billion uncovered population will benefit African society and ecosystem a lot.

EQUALS in Tech: Principles for Quality and Gender-Transformative Digital Skills Training” event took place on 27 March 2017. Co-chaired by Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO’s Director for Gender Equality, and Ms Birgit Frank, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, the event aimed at drawing on the rich expertise of participants to inform and discuss the development of upcoming standards and guidance for gender-transformative digital skills training to be published by the EQUALS Skills Coalition.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Equals in Tech Awards. The awards are open to civil society, government agencies, UN system and international organizations, companies and academia. Anyone who have done exceptional work to bridge the digital gender divide can be nominated.

According to RTR chairman Johannes Gungl, 5G is top priority for both RTR and BEREC and “needs to be understood not only as a new mobile standard, but also a universal platform, allowing increased profitability in various industries, such as media and entertainment, health, automotive, industry and agriculture.” “Study on Implications of 5G Deployment on Future Business Models” commissioned by BEREC and authored by DotEcon Ltd and Axon Partners Group can be found here

On 8 March 2018, the European Commission presented an action plan on financial technology to make use of advances in new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and cloud services.

On 13 March 2018, the European Commission published a study which provides comprehensive data on 2017 retail prices of mobile broadband offers for consumers in the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, and the USA.

On 29 March 2018, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security, ENISA, has released a research paper which highlights the security flaws of yesteryear are still a threat in the 5G world of tomorrow.

On 14 March 2018, the Electronic Communications Committee has approved a set of recommendations to harmonize the 3.4-3.8 GHz and 26 GHz bands for 5G. More on this:

On 27 March 2018, ITC and UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union) launched innovative digital platforms aiming to stimulate competition and regional integration. For Mrs Arancha Gonzalez: “le numérique a un rôle central à jouer pour faciliter la façon dont nous faisons du commerce aujourd’hui. Il permet un commerce inclusif dans le paysage commercial du 21ième siècle où la communication et la connexion sont devenues des outils puissants pour les entreprises notamment en Afrique.

The European Commission has proposed on 21 of March new rules to ensure that digital business activities are taxed in a fair and growth-friendly way in the EU. The measures would make the EU a global leader in designing tax laws fit for the modern economy and the digital age.

The GSMA has identified several key reasons why it believes the United States market will be the pioneer of 5G over the coming years. Among the main reasons for this dominance is the market size and the high percentage of early adopters. Less than 15 percent of consumers in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia are early adopters. This will make 5G penetration in these regions difficult.

Online privacy anxiety is growing, reveals new global survey released during UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week 2018 and conducted by the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and IPSOS, in collaboration with UNCTAD and the Internet Society. In a nutshell, the survey highlights growing concerns about both data privacy and online security. In this sense, “[t]he survey underlines the importance of adopting and adapting policies to cope with the evolving digital economy” said Shamika Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s technology and logistics division. In spite of that, most internet users having participated in the survey still believe that benefits of new technology outweigh the costs. Also noteworthy are the great divergences recorded in terms of global internet trust and eCommerce behavior (notably for mobile payments) which vary noticeably amongst polled countries. The survey, performed between 29 December 2017 and 5 March 2018, reached a total of 25.262 internet users originating from 24 different countries.

Blockchain technologies are “moving out of the lab and going mainstream”, said European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip during his opening speech at the occasion of European Commission’s digital day 2018 held in Brussels. He also encouraged EU countries to work together in order to “make the most of this new opportunity to innovate”. These statements were made in context of Vice-President’s call to EU countries to “commit to Europe’s digital and data- based future – with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), digital healthcare and blockchain technologies.”


New blog by Nokia reveals that in order to ensure timely deployments of 5G infrastructures and services, policy makers should focus on the following priorities: making more spectrum available; modernizing rules to incentivize and facilitate the deployment of telecom infrastructure; ensuring new business models and services can flourish. 5G trials are ongoing in various parts of the world and commercial deployments are expected to start in 2019, if not earlier. However, policy work to foster digitalization is also needed beyond the telecom sector. “3 priorities to ensure ‘5G ready’ policy frameworks” can be found at:

Upcoming Events

The Spring Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 6-7 May 2018 under the leadership of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the GSMA Director General, Mr Mats Granryd, the Commissioner. This meeting will take place in parallel with Transform Africa Summit 2018, also organized in Kigali, Rwanda, from 7 to 10 May 2018. The event is an initiative by the Smart Africa where Heads of State and government, companies, NGO’s and academics will have the opportunity to gather and exchange ideas to help drive Africa’s digital transformation.

The Artificial Intelligence for Good Global Summit 2018 will be organized in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15 to 17 May 2018 by ITU in partnership with the XPRIZE Foundation.

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – West Africa will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 11 to 12 April 2018. It will be followed, the next month, from 30 to 31 May 2018, by GSMA’s Mobile 360 Series – Privacy & Security, being held in The Hague, Netherlands.

ITU Telecom World 2018 to be hosted by the government of South Africa in Durban, South Africa, from 10 to 13 September 2018.

The fall meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will take place in New- York, United States, from 22 to 23 September 2018.