Broadband Commission activities in a nutshell
- Fifty Broadband Commissioners and invited guests convened on January 21 for a Special Session during the 2016 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To enrich this debate on how to get the next 1.5 billion people online, a Discussion Paper was prepared and distributed ahead of the meeting, estimating investments of USD 450 billion in network infrastructure will be needed to connect the world by the year 2020.
The session culminated in the release of a Joint Statement endorsed by participants calling for concentrated efforts and cooperation to ensure meaningful Internet access for the remaining 60% of population worldwide.
- The Broadband Commission revamped its mandate in September 2015, orienting activities towards the UN Development Agenda for 2030. As part of the new framework of action, 3 Working Groups have been set up and are being led by Commissioners with the participation of selected external experts from relevant fields. The Working Groups are:
- Content and Platforms in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, chaired by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia University. The main objective of the group is to recommend appropriate national and regional platforms to support the implementation of selected SDGs.
- Digital Health, co-chaired by Dr Ann Aerts, Novartis Foundation, and Florence Gaudry-Perkins, Nokia. This group is tasked to identify 3-4 countries that have successfully integrated health information systems, ICT infrastructure and health ICTs applications to showcase best practices and tools for other countries.
- Mapping Demand-Side Programs and Initiatives & Creating Scalable Strategy chaired by Mr Gordon Graylish, Intel. This group is tasked with providing a mapping and overview of best practices, innovations and models to spur demand-side generation.
More information and updates about the progress of these Working Groups will become available on the official website of the Commission.
- The Broadband Commission is delighted to welcome new members joining in 2016:
- The Broadband Commission will convene for its annual spring meeting on 12-13 March 2016 in Dubai, UAE, in conjunction with The Global Education & Skills Forum.
- Some Commissioners will, once again, be featured speakers at Mobile World Congress 2016, the world’s largest gathering of the mobile industry. The event is organized by the GSMA, and held in Barcelona from 22-25 February 2016 under the theme: Mobile is everything.
- Vietnam’s Prime Minister has approved a programme for the development of the country’s high speed telecoms infrastructure, with the aim of increasing nationwide fixed broadband penetration to 40% by 2020.
- The Philippines’ industry regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), is proposing new legislation to set up a universal access fund (UAF) for broadband services in the country.
- The Italian government is to push ahead with the rollout of high speed broadband infrastructure in underserved areas of the country. The Ministry of Economic Development and investment board, Invitalia, set up Infratel to manage the government’s broadband deployments, with the aim of investing EUR 4 billion (USD 4.3 billion) to boost the availability of high speed services.
- Ericsson has been showcasing its first super-fast 5G phone. While the prototype is still too weighty for large-scale commercial uptake, Ericsson CEO, Hans Vestberg, has repeatedly pointed to 2020 as the year which he believes 5G technology will be ready for widespread commercialization. Vestberg’s schedule corresponds to that of the International Telecommunication Union, which aims at defining the standards for the technical specifications of 5G (IMT-2020), by 2020, with the first proposal to be sent as soon as 2018.
ICTs and Broadband data and trends snapshot
- According to ITU’s flagship annual Measuring the Information Society (MIS) Report released in November 2015, 3.2 billion people are now online, representing 43.4% of the global population. Mobile-cellular subscriptions have reached almost 7.1 billion worldwide, with over 95% of the global population now covered by a mobile-cellular signal. The growth in the penetration of the active mobile broadband subscriptions has been very sharp and reached 47.2 per 100 persons reflecting the wider availability of mobile-broadband networks, falling prices and the rapidly growing use of handsets: smartphones and tablets.
- Access to mobile broadband technologies: in most countries connectivity is still concentrated in urban areas, with only 29% of the world’s rural population covered by 3G networks. View the MIS 2015 data visualization tool here.
ICT, broadband and 17 Sustainable Development Goals
A message which saves lives – an article published in Development Finance, Issue 2, October 2015, investigates the role mobile technologies can play in helping countries achieve the second development goal of ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture:
“With a strong correlation between the level of telecommunications infrastructure and the incidence of hunger, Dominic Schofield, Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, is positive about the role mobile technologies can play in other African countries like Zambia, Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Comoros, Eritrea and Burundi. These nations make up 8 of the top 10 countries in the Global Hunger Index, though he also says that reaching people in remote regions in these countries will require investment, not just in technology but in the best way to employ such technology for local conditions. So while the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition has used mobile technology to provide dietary information in Vietnam, this was done through a different model. Over 30 percent of Vietnamese children under five are anaemic or suffer from stunted growth, and the GAIN programme seeks to encourage parents to include a sachet of nutrients in their child’s food by using health workers as an intermediary to receive training updates by phone and hand out the sachets to mothers at health centres.”
Columns & blogs
Blog post for ITU Blog by Pippa Biggs – Senior Policy Analyst and Content Coordinator of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development – January 2016
“Predictions for 2015 featured a few mainstream telecom predictions, alongside next-generation software, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data. This year’s predictions argue that science fiction risks becoming reality, with rising stars for Virtual Reality (VR), drones, wearables, ambient environments, cognitive and machine learning. Convergence is also strongly evident, with forecasts for mobile crossing over into the domain of Information Technology (IT), while a few telecom issues feeding back into the IT and Internet domains (most notably, the potential of 5G for underpinning IoT connectivity)…”
In case you missed it
- World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, selected sessions:
- How is the Internet of Things transforming the global marketplace?
- The Future of Growth: Technology-Driven, Human-Centred – What systemic changes are required to ensure that technology can serve humanity to its fullest potential?
- A New Platform for the Digital Economy – How can the emergence of digital platforms create a launch pad for innovation that benefits all?
- In January 2016 a new report from ITU and Cisco entitled Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development was launched at the Pacific Telecommunications Council annual meeting in Hawaii. This report is a contribution to the Broadband Commission and identifies the Internet of Things (IoT) as a major global development opportunity that has the potential to improve the lives of millions and dramatically accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Watch video interviews.
- The World Bank annual report World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends presented available evidence and analysis on the Internet’s potential impact on economic growth, on equity, and on the efficiency of public service provision. The report analyzes what factors have allowed some governments, firms and households to benefit from the Internet, and identifies the barriers that continue to limit gains elsewhere. Download the report here.
- A new McKinsey Global Institute report, The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype, attempts to determine exactly how IoT technology can create real economic value. Download the report.
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