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Newsletter Issue No. 4 2018

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

The Broadband Commission’s Annual Spring Meeting 2018 took place in Kigali, Rwanda on 6 -7 May 2018 at the invitation of H.E. Mr Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Mr Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA.

On Sunday, 6 May, Commissioners had the opportunity to discuss and interact during onsite sessions of the four ongoing Broadband Commission Working Groups (Vulnerable Countries, Epidemic Preparedness, Digital Entrepreneurship, and Digital Health).

The working day was followed by a full-day meeting of the Commission on Monday, 7 May 2018. At the full plenary the Commission discussed challenges, including the necessary investments to cover growing demand for digital connectivity, as well as opportunities of evolving technological solutions to advance the roll-out of broadband around the world - necessary for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One session was entirely dedicated to the connectivity in the context of the African continent, drawing also from the examples and lessons shared at the Transform Africa Summit 2018. Other aspects of the debate covered the digital skills and empowerment to harness the array of new technologies and ICTs for enhancing education and livelihoods.

At this meeting, the Working Group on Vulnerable Countries, chaired by Commissioner Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa 'Utoikamanu (UN-OHRLLS), delivered the Working Group’s report teaser on the theme of “Broadband for national development in four least developed countries”, those being Cambodia, Rwanda, Senegal and Vanuatu. The full report will be released during the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to be held in New York from 9 to 18 July 2018.


Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission and host, H.E. President Paul Kagame said: "Africa's economic transformation requires broadband infrastructure with an emphasis on both access and affordability. The reality is that all other digital services whether in commerce or education or healthcare run on top of broadband. Africa's size, geography and settlement patterns mean that we must rely on a variety of different technologies to deliver broadband including satellite, fibre optic and mobile. It is up to us to lead the way in driving innovation both in policy and business models in order to speed up the provision of broadband where it has been slowest to reach."

Mr. Mats Granryd declared "I was honoured to join President Kagame in hosting this meeting of the Broadband Commission as we examine how we can accelerate the adoption of mobile broadband globally, but more importantly, how we can better equip society to participate in the digital world". "As we will soon see the first 5G networks rolling out, it is more important than ever that governments and industry work together to ensure that all citizens benefit from this new era of hyper-connectivity" he added.


Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission Mr. Carlos Slim stated We need to move as fast as the technology is doing.  We are looking at how our civilization is changing at very high speed, we have to be aware of these changes and try to anticipate what broadband can do and the applications for society. And while I am very glad we are moving ahead.“

Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission, ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao, noted “Just as developing countries found themselves disadvantaged by the Industrial Revolution, some developing countries may soon increasingly find themselves on the wrong side of a newly emerging divide in data, bandwidth, and services. At ITU, we believe that developing countries can position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital revolution. Rwanda is a perfect example of what’s possible when dedicated leadership, careful policy management, and an active private sector come together to build a digital future.”

This year’s meeting was held in conjunction with the Transform Africa Summit 2018, which took place from 7 to 10 May 2018 in the Kigali Convention Center under the theme “Accelerating Africa's Single Digital Market”. It was also an occasion for the Broadband Commissioners to actively participate in the Summit and share their valuable expertise and the work of the Commission. The Future of Health in Africa was discussed during a daily programme of policy Dialogues and High-Level Panels at a dedicated Health Hub.

In May 2018 the Broadband Commission also released an Open Statement on broadband connectivity for refugees, noting that “Without even basic forms of connectivity, refugees can struggle to obtain information, maintain contact with loved ones, benefit from educational opportunities, access basic services or link with communities around them”.

The second edition of the AI for Good Summit was organized by ITU in partnership with the XPRIZE foundation from 15 to 17 May 2018. The Summit successfully connected AI and humanitarian experts seeking to use artificial intelligence in view of achieving the SDGs. This year, no less than 35 project proposals using power of AI “for good” were generated. Pioneering projects have been presented respectively in domains of satellite imagery, healthcare, smart urban development and trust in AI. The full report of the AI for Good Summit 2018 will be made available soon.

"Leveraging the power of ICTs, including artificial intelligence, is imperative if we are to improve the livelihoods of all people, everywhere, through achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals" declared ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTSID) 2018, 17 May 2018, coincided with the AI for Good Summit 2018 and was celebrated under the theme: “Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence for all”. “AI-powered Moonshots” panel discussion showcased the experiences of leading women space explorers and contributed to the discussion on the digital gender divide.

Market News

Gabon will invest $277 million in fiber optic telecoms network over the three next years to improve digital connections, declared Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze, country Minister of communication and digital economy.

Researchers from Helsinki University and Nokia Bell Labs are currently developing a new technology using 5G infrastructure, data analytics, new calibration methods and machine learning for precise and real-time air quality monitoring. Dr. Maria Neira (Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health) said that [t]he risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.” MegaSense project’s first pilot is taking place at the University of Helsinki’s Kumpula Campus and a second pilot will be organized in Beijing.

Telia Company, Ericsson and Karolinska Institutet organized a demonstration during which they managed drones carrying defibrillators using 5G technology, at the meeting of the Nordic Prime Ministers in Ornskoldsvik.

Etisalat, Intel and Ericsson have celebrated the winners of their “5G University Competition”. The contest allowed students from renowned UAE universities to present their innovative 5G use cases in front of a high-level jury of industry executives. Three winner teams were selected of the twenty participating teams. More about the winning projects here.

Saudi Arabia’s CITC has lately issued Test & Trial licenses to the three national mobile operators of the country in view of piloting 5G technologies until the end of 2019. For that purpose, 100 MHz channels in 3.6-3.8 GHz band will be used and an accelerated administrative procedure will be put in place.

Huawei and MTN partnered to conduct the first 5G outdoor trial performed in Africa. “This is the first time we are demonstrating a complete end-to-end 5G network operating in a real-world environment” said MTN. The two companies reached a download speed of 530Mbps and an upload speed of 79Mbps during the trial that took place in Pretoria, South Africa.

Telefónica and Ericsson demo simultaneous control of autonomous driving and content consumption using 5G in an electric minibus, during a recent experience accomplished in Talavera de la Reina, Spain.

The Danish government's Technology Pact was officially launched on April 24, 2018. TDC group declared it will be involved in it in collaboration with the independent school pupil support organization “Danske Skoleelever” (DSE) through “WiFive”, a digital learning tool providing educational material to enhance pupils' digital competence. One of the Technology Pact’s objectives is to increase the number of Danish studying STEM topics by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

NTT DoCoMo announced that they performed the first successful trial of a 28 GHz wireless data transmission between a mobile station in a car moving at the speed of 190mph and a 5G base station.


Results of Ofcom UK’s milestone auction for 5G spectrum (2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz, the second one likely to be used for 5G services) have been published: EE Limited, Hutchison 3G UK Limited, Telefónica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited were granted licenses for a total of £1,355,744,000. Spain will on its side hold a first 5G tender in 3.6-3.8 GHz band in mid-July, Italy will run a €2.5 billion 5G tender by end-September and Germany’s 5G auction will finally take place during spring 2019.


GSMA has released a new report explaining how IoT mobile technologies (and more particularly “massive IoT”) will be a core use case of 5G together with critical communications and enhanced broadband.

Read the report

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF), GSMA and the Associations for Progressive Communications (APC) jointly released a toolkit for researching women’s internet access and use. This toolkit has been designed especially for stakeholders interested in taking into account gender equality while undertaking research projects in order to have a better understanding of the gender gap online.

Consult the toolkit

Upcoming events

ITU Workshop on Broadband Development will be organized in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 29-30 May 2018. The following questions will be addressed by the Workshop:

- Global trends in broadband strategy and policy, including ITU activities;

- Selecting appropriate technology of broadband deployment in rural and remote areas;

- Technical, organizational and economic aspects of broadband networks design and implementation;

- Modern broadband technologies.

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Privacy & Security to be held in The Hague, Netherlands on 30-31 May 2018.

ITU Global Symposium for Regulators 2018 to be held from 9 to 12 July 2018 at ITU’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland under the theme “New Regulatory Frontiers”.

UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2018 will take place from 9 to 18 July 2018 at UN headquarters in New-York, United-States under the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Africa will be organized in Kigali, Rwanda on 17-19 July 2018.

ITU Telecom World 2018 to be hosted by the government of South Africa in Durban, South Africa from 10 to 13 September 2018 under the theme “Innovation for smarter digital development”.

The 2018 EQUALS in Tech Awards will be organized later this year. The date and location will be communicated in the coming weeks but nominations are already being accepted. Award categories include the following categories: Access, Skills, Leadership and Research. To submit your project, click here.

The fall meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will be held in New-York, United States on 22-23 September 2018.