From Development

Newsletter, Issue No 1, 2016


Broadband Commission activities in a nutshell

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.


  3. The Broadband Commission is delighted to welcome new members joining in 2016:
  4. 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.
  5. 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.




  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”

Read the full article


Columns & blogs

Top Tech Predictions for 2016

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)…”

Read the full blog

In case you missed it

To Watch

To Read

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Connecting the remaining four billion

The Members of the Broadband Commission consider broadband to be one of the strongest and most effective tools in bringing about transformative solutions for sustainable development. From governance to health to education to gender equality to enabling the low-carbon economy,  broadband is already advancing a more equitable, inclusive and environmentally healthy world—but there is more work still to be done.