From Newsletter

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.

Newsletter Issue No. 2 2018

Broadband Commission Activities Overview


On the 26 February, at Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, the Expert Group report was published, “A New Deal: Investing in Our Common Future – Policy Recommendations to Close the Broadband Gap”, presenting recommendations to policy-makers, regulators and international institutions to address digital exclusion. The Expert Group, chaired by Commissioner, Philipp Metzger, Director-General of the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), Switzerland, highlights potential actions under the following key themes:
– Providing a healthy investment climate;
– Enabling lower cost supply of infrastructure and effective use of spectrum;
– Making ICT markets work for all; and,
– Liberating demand over the wider digital economy.

“In our increasingly digital world, connectivity is the difference for many people between accessing employment, education, healthcare, e-banking and being left behind,” stated Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary General and Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. “The important recommendations presented in the Expert Group’s report provide concrete actions that can fast-forward broadband delivery of digital connectivity. In particular, we need to create an enabling policy and regulatory environment that will attract investment in ICTs, especially from the private sector”, he added.

World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, 2018


In conjunction with the World Economic Forum, the Broadband Commission co-hosted a Special Session attended notably by one of the Chairs of the Commission, H. E. President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, and co-Vice Chair, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. The session focused on four sectors related to the Broadband Commission’s activities, namely:
– The Gender Digital Divide: How to ensure that the issue of growing gender digital divide is addressed?
– New Financing Solutions for Connectivity: How to increase the efforts put towards connecting the 52% remaining people to the internet?
– Privacy, Safety and Security: How to fight the increasing cyber-crime and cyber-bullying?
– The Fourth Industrial Revolution Divide: How to ensure that Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies don’t create a digital divide?
The report of the session will be available soon on the Broadband Commission website.

The Commission welcomes Mr. Mark MacGann, Group Chief Corporate & Public Affairs Officer and Member of the Global Executive Committee at VEON.
The Commission welcomes Mr. Piotr Dmochowski-Lipski, Executive Secretary of EUTELSAT IGO.
Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, 2018
Mobile World Congress 2018 took place in Barcelona, Spain from 26 February to 1st March 2018. Some of the Keynote Speakers included Broadband Commissioners: Andrus Ansip (European Commission), Kathy Calvin (UN Foundation), Börje Ekholm (Ericsson Group), Mats Granryd (GSMA), Sunil Bharti Mittal (Bharti Enterprises). This world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, organized annually by GSMA, was an occasion for stakeholders to discuss the latest technologies and launches, and to present major innovative services.

“Governments must ensure that the policies they implement contribute to increase inclusiveness and that technologies are used to solve problems rather than amplifying them by leaving certain persons behind”, stated Achim Steiner, UN Development Programme Administrator, during the last World Government Summit from 11-13 February at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

H.E. Mr. Nikolay Nikiforov, Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation, has recently confirmed that Russia’s major mobile operators will stop charging extra fees for national roaming services within the first half of this year.

Other News

The European Commission recently adopted a set of new initiatives seeking to improve key competences and digital skills of European citizens as well as to promote common value, inclusion and pupils’ awareness of the functioning of the European Union, including:
– A Council Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning;
– A Digital Education Action Plan;
– A Council Recommendation on common values, inclusive education and the European dimension of teaching.

Read Press Release

On the same theme, the annual Mobile Learning Week, organized by ITU together with UNESCO will take place from 26 to 30 March 2018, in Paris, France, aiming to improve citizens’ digital skills at global level.

Ericsson & MTN have recently announced at MTN’s headquarters, in South Africa, that they proceeded to the first 5G technology and applications trial in Africa. The trial achieved a throughput of more than 20Gbps with less than 5ms latency, this being the highest having ever been achieved on a social mobile network in Africa.

European Commission launched the “EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum” on 21 February 2018 to seize new opportunities offered by blockchain, build expertise, and show leadership in the field. Major players from traditional sectors, such as banks, insurances, stock exchanges, and logistics, are already on board in pilot projects. The goal is to build on the existing initiatives across borders, solidify expertise, and address the potential challenges created by the new paradigms enabled by blockchain. The European Commission has been supporting blockchain projects through the European Union’s research schemes FP7 and Horizon 2020 since 2013. Up to 2020, it will fund projects that could draw on blockchain technologies for up to €340 million.

Read Press Release

Telecommunications and postal services H.E. Mr Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa, called for more public WIFI zones during the Gauteng Technology Innovation Conference which took place on 1 February in Johannesburg. South Africa Connect aims to deliver 100% broadband connectivity to government facilities by 2020. It is also expected to deliver broadband access to 90% of the country’s population by 2020 and 100% by 2030.


The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2018 launched by the GSMA in February shows for the first time how big the gender gap is with regard to mobile Internet use among low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, it emphasizes the ongoing gender disparity in mobile ownership as well as the obstacles to ownership and use. The report finds that, on average, women are 10% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, which translates into 184 million fewer women owning mobile phones. In addition, women are, on average, 26% less likely to use mobile internet than men. Even among mobile owners, women are 18% less likely than men to use mobile Internet.

Read Report

In collaboration with the UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), ITU presented a new report on ICTs, LDCs and the SDGs: Achieving universal and affordable Internet in the least developed countries. The report highlights the opportunities offered by ICTs to address development challenges existing in the world’s most vulnerable countries. In this view, the report analyzes the recent ICT developments achieved by LDCs and underlines progress towards the fulfilment of UN Sustainable Development Goal 9.c (augmentation of access to ICTs). LDCs have made great progress in expanding mobile services and networks and by early 2017, 61 per cent of the population in LDCs was covered by a mobile broadband signal and the price of mobile broadband services continues to fall rapidly.

Read Report

“Bridging the Rural Digital Divide” report was published in February by the OECD’s Working Party on Communication Infrastructure and Services Policy. It examines recent policy and technology approaches to bridging the digital divide in rural and remote areas in OECD countries. According to the report, despite advances in recent years, gaps between urban and rural areas remain considerable and the chief obstacle to providing service often remains one of higher cost in some geographical areas compared to others.

Read Report

Columns and blogs

A telehealth service supported by the Novartis Foundation in Ghana is to be scaled up as part of the country’s national eHealth efforts. The service uses mobile technology to connect community health workers to specialist health professionals via teleconsultation centers staffed around the clock by doctors, nurses and midwives. Dr. Ann Aerts from Novartis Foundation and Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams of the Ghana Health Service recently co-authored an op-ed, “The Promise of Telemedicine”, about the success of the national telemedicine programme in Ghana.

While having basic mobile connectivity for some developing markets in Asia is still beyond reach, one exception is Myanmar. While the country’s Internet penetration is still relatively low at 34%, the rate of mobile connections is fast approaching 100%. Myanmar’s telecom sector has been booming since opening up to foreign competition in 2013, and recently, its three mobile operators – MPT, Ooredoo Myanmar and Telenor Myanmar – revealed that they had reached a combined 50 million subscribers. More on this in Danial Mausoof’s, Head of Strategic Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Asia Pacific and Japan, Nokia, editorial “Journey to Connect Rural Maynmar.”

Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General, called for recognition of the achievements of women and inspires others to act for gender equality around the world as part of the celebration of International Women’s Day. In his blog post – the Time is Now for Gender Equality in Tech – Mr. Zhao states that “the ITU stands committed to press for gender equality in the field of ICTs and along with infrastructure, investment, innovation and inclusivity is one the four pillars (“4 I’s”) that will help us bridge the digital divide, including the gender digital divide.”



The 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018, under the theme of: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. The Review theme is: Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women

Visit Website

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will take place from 19-23 March 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland and will be co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. The focus of this will be the following: “Leveraging ICTs to Build Information and Knowledge Societies for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. In this context, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will have the chance to hold a Special Dialogue on Thursday 22nd March to discuss the new “Targets 2025: Connecting the Other Half”, and the potential practical solutions to connect the unconnected.

The Mobile Learning Week will take place in Paris, France, from 26-30 March 2018 under the theme “Skills for a connected world.”

UNCTAD E-Commerce Week will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 16 to 20 April 2018 and will place particular emphasis on the Development Dimension of Digital Platforms.

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, in conjunction with GSMA. This meeting will be held in conjunction with Transform Africa Summit 2018 will also take place 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.

Newsletter Issue No. 1 2018

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year 2018!

The 2017 EQUALS in Tech Awards were held 19 December 2017 at the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva, Switzerland and featured winning initiatives bringing digital tech opportunities to women in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Costa Rica. Learn more about the winners and the outstanding projects which have been recognized from around the world to use the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to empower women and girls.


During the Internet Governance Forum, held in Geneva from 18-21 December 2017 under the overarching theme of “Shaping Your Digital Future”, the Broadband Commission together with OECD co-organized the session dedicated to Policy and technology approaches for expanding broadband to rural and remote areas. The session benefitted from the inputs of other Commissioners and their entities like – ITU and Facebook and presented innovative approaches from both the public and private sectors are shaping how we will connect the unconnected.

Microsoft published the top tech issues of the last year, offering our perspectives for the coming 12months, recapping and sharing how Microsoft is helping to address these issues. The following are top 10 issues for 2018 by Microsoft:

1 Cybersecurity
2 Immigration
3 Technology for Rural Communities
4 Diversity and Tech
5 Privacy and Surveillance
6 AI and its Role in Society
7 Sustainability
8 Net Neutrality
9 Coding in Schools
10 Globalization of the IT Sector

During the Second Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Communication and ICT (CCICT-2), the AU Commissioner and member of the Broadband Commission, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, reiterated the importance of communication and information technologies for Africa’s development. At this meeting, the ministers discussed and made decisions on continental and regional programmes that impact Africans in the communications and ICT sectors and reiterated the need for Africa to become actively involved in the dynamics of Internet Governance, Cybersecurity, and Cybercrime.

Commissioner Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of the General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector (TRA) in the United Arab Emirates, recently invited government and private entities to submit entries for the World Summit on Information Society 2018 Prizes.  Regarding this he said, “Our regular participation in this contest is an opportunity to showcase our national projects that are part of our strategies for a future based on sustainable development and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our participation also emphasizes our active presence in the global ICT field, and our influential role in the ITU.”

In a recent interview, Commissioner Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain Group, discussed Zain’s efforts to lead in the digital transformation space, indicating that technology is not the main challenge facing operators in terms of digital transformation or preparing for 5G. He noted that some of the main challenges of 5G center on “what the license fees are going to be”, and what it will cost to deploy the next generation networks.

Watch the full interview here

Other News

ITU’s Council Working Group on Internet is inviting stakeholders to share their views on the topic of Bridging the Digital Gender Divide as part of the Group’s Open Consultation process. The Online Consultation will be open for submissions until 23 December 2017. It will then be followed by a Physical Open Consultation meeting on 22 January 2018 at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The outcomes of the consultation will be informing the Group on the challenges faced by policy makers and women, particularly in developing countries, and on best practices for measuring and increasing women’s participation in the digital economy. Learn more about the online open consultation for “Bridging the Digital Gender Divide” here.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and ViaSat Antenna Systems have partnered to create high-speed broadband satellites. The €68M new Public Private Partnership (PPP) will focus on “developing key components of the ViaSat-3 satellite communications system with European industry.” The PPP is co-funded by ESA with the support of three of its Member States (Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania). It is hoped the new platform will give ISPs the chance to offer consumers up to 100Mb/ps Internet speeds.

Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, together with technology partners Nokia and Thales, have successfully conducted a programme of test flights of the European Aviation Network (EAN) in the UK. The flights serve to test the performance of the EAN system including the onboard equipment being provided by Thales and the ground network provided by Deutsche Telekom and Nokia.

Global Pulse, the United Nations innovation initiative on big data and data science, and Western Digital Corp. announced the winning solutions of the Data for Climate Action (D4CA) challenge at an event during COP23, a United Nations climate change conference. The challenge, which was launched earlier this year, is an unprecedented open-innovation competition to harness data science and big data to accelerate climate solutions. The challenge was organized by UN Global Pulse with the support of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and Western Digital.

Market Insight

4.22 billion active mobile subscriptions Global penetration rate of 56.4 per 100 inhabitants – more information about the ICTs and Broadband Data

The EU will invest over EUR 27 million co-funding projects to further improve European digital services. The evaluation of the first 2017 CEF Telecom call for proposals has concluded and 33 projects were selected to receive co-funding from the European Union in four different areas: Business Registers Interconnection System (BRIS), eIdentification & eSignature, Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) and European e-Justice Portal.


See the list of projects here.


GSMA published the ‘2017 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals’, the second annual study assessing the mobile industry’s impact in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to highlighting the progress that the mobile industry is making against all of the SDGs, the report also noted several commitments and initiatives that the GSMA and its members will focus on delivering over the next year, contributing to further success with the SDGs.


Read the report

Columns and blogs

In a recent blog, Commissioner Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA, highlights the efforts made by world mobile operators to connect everyone to a better future. He introduces #CaseForChange which showcases stories of change and mobile’s pivotal role in achieving a sustainable world. He also refers to the Big Data for Social Good initiative, launched in February 2017, designed to leverage mobile operators’ big data capabilities in addressing epidemics and humanitarian crises and again we’re seeing significant progress with this initiative.

In a recent blog, Huawei reaches out to scientists, manufacturers, and governments to jointly explore the digital world and drive innovation and development in a digital economy.

In an op-ed for Time Magazine, Melinda Gates, philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, weighs in on the sexual harassment women face in Silicon Valley and the workplace in general. Though acknowledging that nearly every industry is impacted by sexual harassment, she shared her dismay at how prevalent the issue has become in Silicon Valley “in some ways the most innovative place in the world” explaining that according to last year’s Elephant in the Valley study, 60 percent of women in tech experienced unwanted sexual advances.


The Broadband Commission will host a special session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 23-26 January 2018 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The Broadband Commission Spring meeting will be hosted by GSMA in Kigali, Rwanda, on 7-8 May 2018

GSMA Mobile World Congress to be held in Barcelona, Spain from 26 February – 1 March 2018

Newsletter Issue No. 10 2017

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

©ITU/ D. Prospero

The Broadband Commission held its annual meeting on September 17 in New York in parallel to the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. 46 Commissioners and 6 Special Guests addressed the important duty of supporting the development of new broadband technologies and connecting people, in particular those who remain unconnected, to the resources needed to improve their livelihoods, and driving transformation towards a more sustainable world, keeping in mind the global importance of bridging the digital divide.

The meeting included two substantive sessions examining “The Changing Face of the Digital Divide” and “Enabling Digital Entrepreneurship for 2030”. Four Working Groups reported on the conclusions of their groups, including the Education group, which released its report Digital Skills for Life and Work; the Technologies in Space and the Upper-Atmosphere group, which released its report Identifying the Potential of New Communications Technologies for Sustainable Development; and the Digital Gender Divide group, which released its report Bridging the Gender Gap in Internet and Broadband Access and Use (all available here). Additionally, three new Working Groups were created on the topics of Digital Health, Epidemics Preparedness, and Digital Entrepreneurship.

The Broadband Commission issued the 2017 edition of its flagship State of Broadband report on 14 September, a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data for over 160 economies worldwide measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.

The report confirmed that according to latest ITU figures, by end 2017, 48% of the global population will be online, though some 3.9 billion people will still not have access to the Internet – with the digital gap growing between developed and developing countries. According to ITU estimates, Internet penetration in the developing world is projected to reach 41.3% by the end of 2017, while Internet user penetration is projected to reach only 17.5% in Least Developed Countries in 2017.

©ITU/ D. Prospero

On 16th September 2017, the Broadband Commission Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide launched its progress report “Bridging the gender gap in internet and broadband access and use”, during the Annual Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in New York.

The progress report provides an update on progress against the commitments of the Working Group members to take forward the four groups of recommended actions outlined in the March 2017 “Recommendations for action” report, aimed for stakeholders to address the gender gap in Internet access and use. The progress report “Bridging the gender gap in internet and broadband access and use” also introduces new commitments to action by members of the Working Group.

©ITU/ D. Prospero

On 17th September 2017, the Broadband Commission Working Group on Technologies in Space and the Upper-Atmosphere launched its final report “Identifying the potential of new communications technologies for sustainable development”, during the Annual Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in New York.

The report’s conclusions outline several steps governments, industry, and other stakeholders can take to promote the further development and adoption of space-based and upper-atmosphere communications technologies in the service of development.  Specifically, the report’s recommendations focus on three key areas: Spectrum, Regulation, and Promoting Technology.

©ITU/ D. Prospero

On 17th September 2017, the Broadband Commission Working Group on Education launched its final report “Digital Skills for Life and Work”, during the Annual Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in New York.

The report observes that in today’s broadband society, digital skills are key ‘literacies’ and competencies needed by all people. It also examines how the education sector can ensure that all people develop essential digital skills for life and work, and points out that broadband technologies can help accelerate progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. The report offers a series of pointed policy recommendations and advises governments to maintain public involvement in digital skills development and redouble efforts to address inequalities in the provision of digital skills and competencies.

©ITU/ D. Prospero ©ITU/ M. Jacobson – Gonzalez (right)

The Broadband Commission Commission’s annual meeting in New York concluded with a special tribute to outgoing UNESCO Director-General and Commissioner, Ms. Irina Bokova, for her seven years of committed service to and support of the Commission, since 2010. In her parting words, she reminded the Commissioners of the importance to make “technology work for people”, a hallmark of her commitment to using broadband to improve livelihoods around the world.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development welcomed 11 new Commissioners to the annual meeting in New York:

• Amani Abou Zeid, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure & Energy, African Union
• Andrus Ansip, Vice-President in Charge of Digital Single Market, European Commission
• Borje Ekholm, CEO, Ericsson
• Arancha González Laya, Executive Director, International Trade Centre
• Mukisha Kituyi , Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
• Boris Koprivnikar, Deputy Prime Minister, Slovenia
• Patrick Masambu, Secretary-General, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
• Stephen Spengler, CEO, INTELSAT
• Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
• Masahiko Tominaga, Vice-Minister for Policy Coordination (International Affairs), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan
• Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, United Nations Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.


The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-17) took place in Buenos Aires and featured the participation of several Broadband Commissioners in its High-Level Segment. H.E. Mr Boris Koprivnikar, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia spoke about Slovenia’s initiatives for finding new ways to use digital tools at a system level to improve the quality of life of their citizens and the quality of businesses in the country.

H.E. Mr Masahiko Tominaga, Vice-Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan expressed that ICTs are a “driving force for socioeconomic activities in various fields” and an “engine for economic growth and the prosperity of mankind”. H.E. Minister Tominaga also stated that “we should promote to bridge the digital divide by improving the quality and affordability of ICT infrastructure, and also should promote to enhance accessibility and digital literacy for everyone by providing all people with affordable and high-quality access to communication networks and opportunities of developing ICT skills”.

Mr Philipp Metzger, Director General of the Federal Office of Communications of Switzerland (OFCOM) conveyed that Switzerland is “confident that the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda (Agenda 2030) embodies a very promising approach to solving many of the world’s problems and that ICTs will play a decisive role in achieving the 17 SDGs by 2030”.

Other News

The EQUALS in Tech Principals Meeting took place in New York on September 16th, where coalition leaders highlighted the status of their coalitions, and participants shared proposals to ensure the long-term sustainability of EQUALS, and commitment to bridging the digital gender divide.

The ITU Telecom World Awards 2017 prize ceremony was held on the closing day of the leading tech event ITU Telecom World 2017 in Busan, Republic of Korea. The Global SME Awards recognized the best innovative information and communication technology (ICT) based solutions with social impact from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) present at the event in five classes – Best Business Model, Most Scalable, Most Innovative Use of ICT, Greatest Social Impact and the Global SME Excellence Award, for the SME with the highest all-around score.

The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-17) took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 9 to 20 October 2017, under the theme ICT for Sustainable Development Goals. The agenda of WTDC-17 included a High-Level Segment where high-ranking officials from Member States, shared their views on emerging trends and on matters of strategic importance to the development of the ICT sector.

The celebration of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector’s 25th Anniversary was also held on 11 October, in the framework of WTDC-17. The event featured two ministerial roundtable discussions: one on the impact of ICTs to accelerate the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and the other on the future of the digital economy. Both were chaired by Andres Ibarra, Minister of Modernization of Argentina.

Market Insight

GSMA’s Global Cellular Market Trends and Insight – Q3 2017 – an insightful quarterly review of latest mobile data trends about networks; financials such as Opex, Capex, EBITDA and ARPU; number of users and broadband penetration on a global as well as regional level provides noteworthy news about 2G, 3G and 4G as a percentage of total connections worldwide, which stands at 41%, 29% and 30% respectively. North America leads the number of 4G connection with 68% of its population on a 4G network. This stands in contrast to 3% of the least developed countries on 4G, whereas 66% of its population continues to depend on 2G networks.

According to OECD’s Digital Economy Outlook 2017, access to internet and average speed are increasing and prices are falling. Usage of mobile data is widely varied across the countries with Finland and Latvia leading the usage. Government policies though, have failed to keep pace with the rate of digital innovation. In order to empower citizens, governments need to work on reducing digital inequalities and review labor laws, trade agreements and other legislation that strengthens digital security and minimizes privacy risks.

Empirica Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Technologieforschung mbH and TÜV Rheineland recently prepared a Fixed Broadband Prices in Europe study for the European Commission’s Digital Single Market. The study offers a detailed data on 2016 retail broadband offers for consumers across EU28, Iceland, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Canada and the USA. Applying a price normalization technique in Euros, the study found that the least expensive countries for fixed broadband in the EU in 2016 were Lithuania, Sweden, Latvia, Romania and Finland. From 2015 to 2016, the countries experienced a small decrease in prices in general. Significant difference in prices exists in the least and most expensive countries in the EU.

The European Parliament has signed the WiFi4EU legislation – an initiative that will provide access to free and high-speed internet in public spaces of some 6,000 to 8,000 local communities across the EU by 2020. Once the legislation enters force, municipalities across the EU may register and apply online for funding of up to 120 million euros. The funding is available on a ‘first-come first-served basis’ and will be allocated in a geographically balanced manner across the EU.

To develop a robust ICT ecosystem – robust design and development of data centers, centralized centers where information is stored and processed, are vital for both private stakeholders as well as the governments in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. The study by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB): ‘Data Centers and Broadband for Sustainable Economic and Social Development: Evidence from Latin American and the Caribbean’ undertakes a comparative assessment of data centers and related infrastructure across 26 IDB borrowing countries and seeks to answer some key questions such as the optimal number and location of data centers, associated public policy and regulatory challenges, role of traditional telecommunications firms and how policymakers can promote the development of big data and Internet of Things (IoT)-based services and applications.

To improve the broadband connectivity for over 21 million globally dispersed refugees, ‘A Global Broadband Plan for Refugees’ by the Migration Policy Institute studies refugee hosting countries’ broadband strategies and various private sector philanthropic initiatives. It identifies that over 80% of the refugees live in developing countries where connectivity is a challenge for the local population as well. Even in the new broadband plans of developing and developed countries, the refugees ‘risk being overlooked in these expansion plans’. To overcome the challenge of connectivity, the study recommends various models such as a global broadband strategy, multi-stakeholder participation and a systematic approach leading to targeted actions leveraging from technological advancements to offer access to essential services and generate economic advantages for the host countries in closing the connectivity gaps.

Togo’s new Finance Act for 2017 for ICT abolished VAT on personal computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. With this move, the Togolese government hopes to make ICT equipment affordable for the local population and set up a digital hub in the region. As part of its digital transformation strategy, the government had earlier initiated projects such as WARCIP (West African Regional Communications Infrastructure Program) to develop access to internet bandwidth; the E-government project to connect administration buildings, hospitals and schools to fiber optics and the free Wi-Fi project.


The report ‘Signs of Digital Distress’ by the Brookings Institution, studies two components of digital divide framework – broadband availability and broadband subscription – across every metropolitan area and neighborhood in the USA to identify the level of digital disconnect in the American society. The study underscores the role that federal policy (such as the policies by Federal Communications Commission in the USA) and local stakeholders (from public, private and civic sectors) can play in balancing the availability and adoption objectives to overcome the digital divide.

UNCTAD’s Information Economy Report 2017 on Digitalization, Trade and Development highlights the valuable role ICT can play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report highlights how lack of high-speed broadband connectivity can widen the digital chasm and create additional challenges. Digitalization promises to substantially disrupt the traditional value chain across sectors as diverse from agriculture to production of garments. To benefit from the internet and new multi-platform economy, digital connectivity as well as a pragmatic all-embracing policy making at national and international level can facilitate a more egalitarian and inclusive digital society.

UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2017 talks about digital multinationals and their impact on host countries. The report presents convincing arguments on how a well-rounded approach of an aligned investment policy with digital development strategy by developing countries can facilitate attainment of 2030 agenda on sustainable development.

Columns and blogs

In the blog, ‘Digital Financial Inclusion: What Works and What’s Next’, Kristalina Georgieva, CEO World Bank highlights the role that digital technologies can play to assure financial inclusion of over one billion unbanked women worldwide. Over 25 countries in the developing world are home to 70% of world’s unbanked population. Different countries have taken different approaches to ensure financial inclusion. Brazil, Mexico and Turkey for instance have digitized government-to-person payments such as salaries, whereas India has emphasized on developing a digital infrastructure such as national digital IDs. The blog underscores the role digital tools, interoperable open technology systems and national digital IDs can play in achieving the SDG financial inclusion for all.

To ensure Financial Inclusion for 40% of the world’s excluded financial population, ITU in association with the World Bank has launched the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI) Symposium. FIGI symposium will be held annually from 2017-2020 and aims to provide a platform for concerned stakeholders to share their insights and views on achieving digital financial inclusion.

Rwanda seeks to ensure 92% high speed internet coverage by end 2017 by deploying 4G broadband network to rural areas beyond its capital city of Kagali. Deployment of 4G LTE broadband network across the country is expected to facilitate easy access to various broadband services, including applications such as e-governance, e-banking, e-learning and e-health and help Rwanda become a middle-income nation by 2020.


The Regional Meeting on Broadband Connectivity for the Asia-Pacific Least Developed Countries will take place on 26 -27 October 2017 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The topic of this meeting will be “Accelerating the Implementation of the IPOA within the Context of the 2030 Agenda: A Focus on Broadband Connectivity.” The meeting will feature 5 sessions focused on broadband, from investment to infrastructure to applications and services.

The 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take place between 18 and 21 December 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. The IGF is an open platform for multistakeholder dialogue on digital policy issues. Titled “Shape Your Digital Future!” the IGF 2017 will address questions relating to cyber security, the data economy, sustainable development, human rights on the internet, as well as the influence of digitization on our economy, the media landscape and the political system.

Newsletter Issue No. 9 2017

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

On 10th July, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development issued a statement urging policymakers, the private sector and other partners to make deployment of broadband infrastructure a top priority in strategies to accelerate global development and progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The statement was presented to the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which met in New York City 10-19 July 2017 to guide global efforts on the achievement of the SDGs. HLPF Forum meets annually under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council for eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment and every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly for two days.

A side-event co-organized by ITU and GeSI, titled “ICT for sustainable development: How digital solutions can drive progress towards the SDGs”, took place on 13 July. Panel discussions on how ICTs can catalyze achievement of the SDGs explored the challenges and opportunities of using digital solutions to drive progress and generate meaningful impact in our societies. The session featured the work and the findings of the Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Health report, “Digital Health: A call for Government Leadership and Cooperation between ICT and Health”.


The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development welcomed four new Commissioners to its membership: Mr. Boris Koprivnikar; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Patrick Masambu; Director General and CEO of ITSO, Mr. Stephen Spengler; CEO of Intelsat, and Mr. Achim Steiner; Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Our Commissioner, Mr. Denis O’Brien, Chairman of Digicel Group, participated in the Leadership debate – Drivers of Digital Transformation, which took place during the Global Symposium for Regulators held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 11 to 14 July 2017. This debate examined, among others topics, the policies and regulations needed to sustain digital transformation. In this regard, Mr. O’Brien called for regulators to address the unregulated nature of the Internet, and making particular reference to the developing world’s needs, he said that “Apart from regulation, in order to bring broadband to the next 4 billion people, we need a new deal where everybody who builds a network will share in the revenues of the network…”

During the same event our Commissioner Mr. Kevin Martin, Vice President of Mobile and Global Access Policy of Facebook, participated the session on “Collaborative Regulation in a Digital Ecosystem: New Regulatory Paradigms. This session examined issues such as the social and economic Impact of a digital connected society; how to anticipate the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digitization; the regulatory paradigm shift.

Other News

The 17th edition of the ITU Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) – the top technology policy conference, was held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 11 to 14 July 2017. Under the theme of “Living in a World of Digital Opportunities” the conference included debate on the emerging issues for the ICTs ecosystem such as: artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robots, collaborative regulation in a digital world as well as the development aspects of ICTs for SDGs. As part of the GSR-17 consultation process, regulators were invited to identify innovative and collaborative policy, regulatory and business measures needed to lift the barriers and achieve affordable access to the digital world. Read about the outcomes here.

GSMA was part of the second annual SDG Business Forum Organizing Committee, which took place at the United Nations on 18 July 2017 during the ministerial segment of the HLPF. Co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), and the UN Global Compact, this forum convened leaders from business and government, heads of UN agencies, key international organizations, and civil society groups and reported on significant achievements and commitments undertaken by business, as well as private sector efforts to catalyze sustainable growth and development.

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of India held that right to privacy though a fundamental right, is a qualified one and has to be weighed against various benefits such as financial inclusion that the sharing of information may offer to the citizens of the country. The judgment is considered landmark as it is expected to substantially impact further development of Aadhar in India. Aadhar is a mandatory biometric ID card program that helps identify the citizens with a unique 12-digit ID.

Novartis Foundation and Intel Corporation have launched a ‘Better Hearts Better Cities’ project on the World Hypertension Day 2017. The initiative seeks to employ an innovative approach to prevent, minimize and control non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular and hypertension in low-income urban communities.

Ericsson recently awarded the Ericsson Innovation Award 2017 to a team of students from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. The team developed an innovative solution to minimize cost and enhance efficiency of soil sample analytics by offering farmers with real-time data. The insights allow farmers to select suitable fertilizers and thereby keep the soil healthy and rich in minerals. The theme of the competition ‘Future of Food’ addressed United Nations SDG2 ‘No hunger’ and SDG12 ‘Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’. In addition to cash prize, Ericsson offered selected participants mentoring opportunities.

On 11 July 2017, Microsoft announced a rural broadband initiative to bring high-speed internet to millions of rural Americans through unused television airwaves. With this initiative, the company expects to eliminate the rural broadband gap by 2022. Huawei announced at the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa conference, that it is ready to partner with African governments, operators and private companies to advance economic and social development on the continent through enhancing mobile broadband.

Market and Policy Insight

Microsoft officially listed artificial intelligence as one of its top priorities in a financial filing, and added AI into its corporate vision statement, too: “Our strategic vision is to compete and grow by building best-in-class platforms and productivity services for an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with AI,” the company wrote in the annual report.

According to a recent worldwide survey by M-Lab, in Africa, Kenya has the fastest average fixed-line broadband speed at 8.83 Mbit/s. Worldwide though, the country ranks number 51 with Singapore leading the list with an average speed of 55.13 Mbit/s. The African sub-continent, as it emerges from the study, is more focused on offering access through mobile broadband rather than fixed-line broadband. 17 of the world’s 30 slowest broadband countries in the world are located in the African sub-continent.


On 23th July, the publication Fast-forward progress: Leveraging tech to achieve the Global Goals was launched, during the meeting of the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which is the voluntary review process of the 2030 Agenda, including the SDGs. This publication gathers the views and perspectives of more than 20 UN heads on how and why “ICTs for SDGs” is critical.

The World Bank launched the report “Reaping Digital Dividends: Leveraging the Internet for Development in Europe and Central Asia”. One of the main messages is that ECA countries are in a unique position to reap the digital dividends. For example, governments in the east can adapt the successful policies that the new EU members implemented to improve and even outperform the richer economies of the west in terms of internet access.

On 31st July, ITU released its 2017 edition of ICT Facts and Figures. This much-anticipated annual release of global ICT data reveals that mobile broadband subscriptions have grown more than 20 per cent annually in the last five years and are expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017. The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has increased by 9 per cent annually in the last five years with up to 330 million subscriptions added. ITU’s ICT Facts and Figures demonstrates that ICTs continue to play an increasingly critical role in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a recent econometric study by Shehata, Helwan University, Egypt, the author investigates how ICT can contribute to closing of gender employment gap in Middle-East and North African countries. Results of the study indicate that to attain equality, the policy makers should focus on promotion of higher ICT usage, boosting GDP per capita and enhancing openness – three factors that substantially and positively impact gender equality in employment.

Nardotto, University of Cologne , Valletti, Imperial College London and Verboven, KU Leuven and Ecole Polytechnique analyze the UK Broadband market to assess the impact of unbundling on broadband penetration and find that in the early stages of deregulation, unbundling positively impacts broadband penetration. Once the markets reach maturity, local loop unbundling (LLP) positively impacts the quality of services as entrants try to differentiate themselves from the incumbent operator. Competition from cable, a different and unregulated form of technology, positively impacts the quality of access and rate of internet penetration.

In a recent study, Women20 (W20), the official G20 dialogue focusing on women’s economic empowerment, supported by Emerging Market Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD), analyses how the digital revolution will impact gender equality in G20 countries and what positive governmental and non-governmental measures may possibly contribute to narrow these gaps. Results of the study underscore the need to offer universal and open broadband internet access, focusing on women’s e-education; encouraging women to enter in tertiary education and STEM occupations (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and financial empowerment of women through innovative digital finance tools and e-government.

Econometric study on the impact of broadband infrastructure by Czernich, Falck, Kretschmer and Woessmann from Institute for Economic Research, University of Munich study the impact of high-speed internet on economic growth in OECD countries and find that a 10 percent increase in broadband leads to annual per capita growth of 0.9-1.5 per cent points.

Columns and Blogs

In a press release on 7 July 2017, OECD announced that mobile broadband penetration is at 99% in the OECD area. High-speed Internet use continues to grow in OECD countries with mobile broadband penetration reaching 99 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in December 2016, up from 91 per 100 a year earlier, according to data released by the OECD.

Blog by Ericsson “Superfast broadband everywhere is changing the world” talks about the benefits that broadband can bring to people, businesses and societies.


ITU Telecom World will be taking place in Busan, Republic of Korea, on 25-28 September 2017 and will feature several sessions with the Broadband Commissioners.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will be holding its annual Fall Meeting in New York from 16 to 17 September 2017.

The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-17) will be convened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 9 to 20 October 2017.

The EQUALS in Tech Principals Meeting will take place September 16th in New York, where coalition leaders will highlight the status of their coalitions, and participants will share proposals to ensure the long-term sustainability of EQUALS, and commitment to bridging the digital gender divide.

Newsletter Issue No. 8 2017

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

On the 5th of June 2017, the Broadband Commission Working Group on the Digitalization Scorecard chaired by Nokia’s President and CEO Rajeev Suri launched its final report “Digitalization Scorecard: Which policies and regulations can help advance digitalization”. The report focuses on assessing policy and regulatory readiness for digitalization of six chosen countries which represent a sample cross-section in terms of income, geography and population size.


Digitalization is a universal trend but countries still have work to do to ensure policy and regulatory frameworks across sectors are ‘fit for purpose’. Together, the analysis sets out how each country is performing when it comes to policies and regulations to foster or limit digitalization. In addition to country-specific assessments, the study outlines sector-specific policy recommendations as well as six overall recommendations for governments and policymakers to guide countries as they embark and progress on their digitalization journey.

The report and the scorecard were also discussed at the WSIS Forum 2017 session on Digitalization Scorecard: Advancing Digitalization of Verticals with Enabling Policies and Regulations which featured several high-level speakers, including: Mr Marc Vancoppenolle – Nokia’s Global Head of Government Relations; Mr Mohammad Chowdhury – PwC’s Telecom, Media and Technology sector; Dr Martha Suarez – General Director of National Spectrum Agency, Colombia; Ms Florence Gaudry Perkins – representing Novartis Foundation; Ms Sofie Maddens – ITU’s Head of the Regulatory and Market Environment Division, and Ms Phillippa Biggs; Chief Policy Analyst, ITU, and Broadband Commission Content Coordinator.

Photo ©ITU/I.Wood

This session, built on the work of the Working Group and focused on how policy interventions may advance digitalization of sectors, such as education, agriculture, healthcare, transportation, and e-government. The panelists also shared their views on which regulations should be avoided as blocking a switch to digital in a given sector. Read the blog by Nokia and The Broadband Commission Secretariat here.


Photo credit: #TransformAfrica2017

On 10-12 May 2017, Kigali, Rwanda, hosted 2017 edition of Transform Africa Summit under the theme of: Smart Cities – Way Forward. The conference is designed to foster constructive conversation towards building a Smart Africa and facilitate meetings of like minds seeking policy and opportunities to accelerate the continent towards socio economic transformation. This year’s edition focused on various aspects of digital development: from harnessing cooperation and providing skills, from blockchain and IoT in Africa to paving way towards smart cities and many more.

Photo credits:

Several Broadband Commissioners took part in the major event including: H.E. Paul Kagame – President of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Nikolay Nikiforov – Minister of Telecom & Mass Communications in Russian Federation; Mr Houlin Zhao – Secretary-General of ITU; Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – Executive Director of UN Women; Ms Irina Bokova – Director General of UNESCO; Mr Rupert Pearce – CEO of Inmarsat; and Mr John Galvin – VP and General Manager for Public Sector, Intel.

Other News

On 7-9 June 2017 ITU and XPRIZE Foundation in partnership with other UN agencies hosted the first annual global summit AI for Good in Geneva. AI innovation will be central to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will help solving humanity’s grand challenges by capitalizing on the unprecedented quantities of data now being generated on sentiment behavior, human health, commerce, communications, migration and more. With large parts of our lives being influenced by AI, it is critical that government, industry, academia and civil society work together to evaluate the opportunities presented by AI, ensuring that AI benefits all of humanity. The Summit provided a neutral platform for government officials, UN agencies, NGO’s, industry leaders, and AI experts to discuss the ethical, technical, societal and policy issues related to AI, offer recommendations and guidance, and promote international dialogue and cooperation in support of AI innovation.

On 12-16 June 2017 the annual World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS) took place in Geneva. The WSIS Forum as the multi-stakeholder platform serves as a key forum for discussing the role of ICTs as a means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, with due regard to the global mechanism for follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. WSIS Forum 2017 resulted in several concrete outcomes that will enable stakeholders to strengthen implementation of WSIS Action Lines and the alignment of the WSIS and SDG processes.

Market and Policy Insight

Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society has announced that the Thai Government aims to cover additional 70,000 villages with low-cost broadband by the end of 2018.

The Russian Ministry of Communications is set to draft a national “Digital Economy” programme, where, among other goals, the Ministry advocates that 5G mobile networks should be commercially available in eight Russian cities with a population over one million.


In its new Mobility Report Ericsson foresees continued rapid growth of mobile connectivity as global mobile data traffic increases to eight times its current level by 2022 – averaging to more than one million each day. The latest collection of statistics about the growth of subscribers and data traffic in mobile networks is presented in the June edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.

A new study by GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) – 5G in China: Outlook and Regional Comparisons was published at GSMA Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017 and explores the near-term outlook for the testing and commercial launches of new 5G networks in China and other advanced Asia markets, and the potential 5G use cases for both the consumer and enterprise markets.

New Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2017 published by ITU Development Bureau on June 2017 as the first of an annual series of reports tracking market and regulatory trends in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector and their implications across the economy. This report is a key resource on smart, inclusive and forward-looking ICT regulation. Its findings can provide useful guidance in reviewing and upgrading regulatory frameworks for the ICT sector as the basis for the digital economy today and for the future.

On the 10th of May 2017, OECD issued report “The Next Production Revolution. Implications for Governments and Business”. This publication examines the opportunities and challenges, for business and government, associated with technologies bringing about the “next production revolution”. These include a variety of digital technologies (e.g. the Internet of Things and advanced robotics), industrial biotechnology, 3D printing, new materials and nanotechnology.

On June 15, the latest issue of the Global Innovation Index report was launched. Co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD and WIPO, the GII 2017, marking its 10th edition, focuses on the topic of innovation in agriculture and food systems. One its main findings relates to the key role of smart and digital agricultural innovation in helping overcome critical food challenges. “Big data are reshaping the world of agriculture: digital agriculture has started to spread worldwide, helped by the development of innovations in information technology (IT)—for example, sensors, drones and robotics, and virtual and augmented reality—as well as data generation and analytics enabled by remote sensing, and geographic information systems”, indicates the report.

Columns and Blogs

On the 17th of May 2017 ITU celebrated another World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. This year the theme “Big Data for Big Impact” explored the many ways that big data can make big impacts towards the realization of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General, provided an overview on how big data makes an impact on boosting the SDGs.

Microsoft published a blog entry where it gives explicit explanation of how it aims to empower a more accessible and inclusive world. Digital inclusiveness should be mainstreamed in schools, workplace, and smart cities with a special focus on AI. This was done in the framework of the sixth edition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebrated annually on the 18th of May.

ITU blog featured a post by Mr Dongmyun Lee, CTO of KT, where he explains the latest KT strategic plans on development and deployment of 5G technologies in 2019, more specifically the company will showcase the new technology and its impact on global economy at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018.

Blog by Nokia and the Broadband Commission Secretariat: New Digitalization Scorecard report helps guide policy and regulatory efforts summarized the session held at the WSIS Forum 2017.


The 17th edition of the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) will be held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 11 to 14 July 2017. The theme of GSR17 is “Living in a World of Digital Opportunities”.

The meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) will be held in the framework of ECOSOC, from 12 to 19 July 2017 in New York. The programme also includes a three-day ministerial segment (17-19 July). This year’s theme will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will be holding its annual Fall Meeting in New York from 16 to 17 September 2017.

ITU Telecom World will be taking place in Busan, Republic of Korea, on 25-28 September 2017.

Newsletter Issue No. 7 2017

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development held this year’s Spring Meeting in Hong Kong, SAR of China, from 15 to 17 March, at the invitation of Ms Sun Yafang, Chairwoman of the Board of Huawei. On the first day, Commissioners took the opportunity to attend on-site sessions of the four Broadband Commission Working Groups: Education; Digital Gender Divide; Digitalization Scorecards; Technologies in Space and the Upper-Atmosphere. The Commission meeting was held on the second day, and the event concluded with a very interesting visit to the Huawei Headquarters in Shenzhen. During the meeting, Commissioners and broadband stakeholders agreed on a new deal for a renewed commitment to strive to ensure that broadband access reaches the almost 4 billion people in the world who are still to this day unconnected.

The Broadband Commission Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide, chaired by Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, and co-chaired by Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), launched its final report on 15 March. The report includes a number of recommended actions to inspire concerted efforts among all stakeholders to reduce the global gender gap in Internet access and identifies four specific action areas: benchmarking and compiling detailed evidence; integrating a gender-perspective into policy; addressing the barriers women face; and supporting multi-stakeholder cooperation.


From 24 to 28 April, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held E-Commerce week in the United Nations Office in Geneva with the theme “Towards Inclusive E-Commerce”. The “High-level Event on Digital Transformation for All: Empowering Entrepreneurs and Small Business” featured high-level speakers, including: Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD; Mr Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU, and Mr Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group and Special Adviser to UNCTAD for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Broadband Commissioner H.E. Dr Anusha Rahman Khan – Pakistan’s Minister of State for Information Technology − provided an overview of how e-commerce is becoming widely recognized as an important driver of innovation, competitiveness, job creation and growth, and its huge potential for entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises worldwide.

A session on Broadband Connectivity for E-Commerce, co-organized by UNCTAD, ITU and the Internet Society (ISOC), included speakers from: Japan, ITU, Huawei, the World Economic Forum (WEF), ISOC and Telenor, and focused on actions required to facilitate e-commerce to ensure an all-inclusive, connected, networked society, and digital economy.

With support from Mr Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market, the European Commission has urged organizations to attract more girls and women to digital careers, and an appeal was made to International Girls in ICT Day celebrations.

The European Commission has also proposed to enhance its cooperation with Africa on peace, security and job creation for youth. Among other important tasks, the EU suggests improving youth employment on the continent by launching an African Youth Facility, which will expand the scope of Erasmus+, or to support digital innovation in Africa.

On 26 April, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) celebrated World Intellectual Property Day, and Director General, Mr Francis Gurry, during his annual speech, stressed the importance of technological innovation for paving the way to social and economic wellbeing.
Other News

The sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 March, highlighting the top priorities for women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

In conjunction with the Commission on the Status of Women − Women20 − one of the most recent G20 dialogue processes − presented its framework and goals to 120 representatives of governments and NGOs present at the event. The civil society and women’s policy dialogue of Women20 (W20) began as Germany took over the chair of the G20 on 1 December 2016.

On 27 April ITU celebrated International Girls in ICT Day. To date, over 240,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 7,200 truly inspiring International Girls in ICT Day celebrations in 160 countries worldwide.

The G20 Digital Economy Ministerial Conference took place in Dusseldorf, Germany from 6 to 7 April, and concluded with a general agreement on how to maximize the benefits of digitalization, highlighting the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as the backbone of today’s digital economy.

Market Insights

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has formally approved the National Broadband Plan (NBP) , which intends to extend and accelerate the rollout of fiber-optic cables and wireless broadband technologies throughout the country.

The Saudi telecoms regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), has awarded Phase I of the broadband coverage expansion project to Zain. Under the new contract, the operator is set to increase high-speed broadband coverage in the kingdom’s underserved areas to 70% by 2020.

The Bangladesh Government has undertaken a project to extend fiber-optic connectivity to an additional 772 union councils – the country’s smallest rural administrative sub-divisions – by the end of 2018, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared the remote island of Moheshkhali a “Digital Island”, targeting to make it a model for the world in five years, in collaboration with KT.

Uruguay’s national telecoms operator, the Administración Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel), is aiming to complete the nationwide deployment of its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network within the next five years. Coverage of the high-speed network currently reaches 70% of the country, but this will be expanded to 100% by 2022.

According to the EU Digital Economy and Society Index 2017, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium are the current European champions in connectivity, measured by fixed broadband, mobile broadband, speed and affordability.

European travellers are experiencing the last few weeks of roaming charges. As of 15 June 2017, you will no longer have to pay extra for mobile data and connection when travelling within the EU.


UNCTAD has launched an ICT-focused policy review programme, which conducts assessments of any given country’s capabilities, taking into account the ICT policy framework, as well as implementation and institutional frameworks. The programme aims to help you build a policy framework with a solid ICT infrastructure, human resources and skills, ICT use in education, and local content in key ICT applications.

As part of its support to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the European Commission is mainstreaming the use of digital technologies and services to broaden the reach of the EU’s Development Policy. The Digital4Development approach promotes digital solutions as part of the fight against poverty and inequality. Recently the EU Commission has published the first Staff Working Document on Digital 4 Development, where the priorities for digitalization mainstreaming are put forward.

Akamai has presented its most recent State of the Internet report, featuring global, regional and country trends, connection speeds, as well as case studies of recent Internet disruptions.

Columns and Blogs

The UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform features ITU Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao’s statement about how ICTs can fast-forward progress on the SDGs, in which he explains how the next-generation of ICT infrastructure will power the evolution of smart, sustainable cities and communities worldwide.

Microsoft’s blog sets forth ideas on how to attract girls and women to pursue careers in the science, technology and math (STEM) field with targeted actions to narrow the digital gender gap. To this end, Microsoft launched a movement last year calling on girls to #MakeWhatsNext to raise awareness of the reasons behind girls dropping out of, or losing interest in, science, technology and math (STEM), and to encourage girls to opt for STEM education.

Upcoming Events

The Transform Africa Summit will take place from 10 to 12 May, in Kigali, Rwanda, under the heading “Smart Cities. Fast Forward”. This year’s event will focus on the advancement of smart cities, digital services, and the barriers to broadband access in Africa.

On 22 May, alongside the 70th World Health Assembly, the African Ministerial Dialogue on Digital Health Leadership, hosted by African ministers of health, and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Novartis Foundation and PATH, will take place in Geneva, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

ITU will be hosting the first annual AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva from 7 to 9 June. The Summit, co-organized with XPRIZE, aims to accelerate and advance the development and democratization of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that can address specific global challenges related to poverty, hunger, health, education, the environment, among others.

The annual World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS), co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, will take place from 12 to 16 June, in Geneva, under the theme: Information and Knowledge Societies for Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17th edition of the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR), open to regulators, policy-makers and members of ITU’s Development Sector, will be held in Nissau, Bahamas, from 11 to 14 July under the theme: “Living in a World of Digital Opportunities”.

Finally, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will be holding its annual Fall Meeting in New York from 16 to 17 September 2017.

Newsletter Issue No. 6 2017

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

On the 17th of January, 2017 Broadband Commission held a Special Session at World Economic Forum in Davos. The event was attended by Co-Chairs of the Commission: H. E. President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, ITU Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao, UNESCO Director-General Ms Irina Bokova, including other Commissioners including: Director General of GSMA DG Mr Mats Granryd, UNDP Administrator Ms Helen Clark, UN Women Executive Director Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Nokia President and CEO Mr Rajeev Suri, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Director of America Movil, Dr Carlos Jarque. The Broadband Commission was pleased to host founder of the World Wide Web Foundation Sir Tim Berners-Lee as a special guest.

The discussion at the special session was built around four break-out groups, which covered themes of: New Financing Models for ICT Connectivity Infrastructure, New Last Mile Business Models, New Country Partnership Models, and New Approaches to Ending the Digital Gender Divide. The overall topic was focused on assessing existing efforts towards connecting 3.9 billion people who are still offline.

To provide with an overview of challenges and barriers which remain to connect offline population and elaborate on the next possible steps the Broadband Commission issued a discussion paper prepared specifically for the Session at WEF. This backgrounder examines in greater detail who and where the unconnected are today and what possible measures can accelerate the access to ICTs.

World Economic Forum has featured official report from the Broadband Commission Special Session with overview of the break-out groups, special remarks and participants to the discussion on bringing more people online. Broadband Commissioners participated in multiple WEF panel discussions, such as: “Future of Innovation” with WIPO Director General Mr Francis Gurry and Cisco CEO Mr Chuck Robbins; President of Inter-American Development Bank Mr Luis Alberto Moreno took part in the discussion “Promise or Peril: Decoding the Future of Work”; H. E. President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and OECD Secretary-General Mr Angel Gurría discussed “Shaping National Digital Strategy”; chairman of Bharti Enterprises Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal participated in the panel on “The Future of Big Business”; VimpelCom Ltd CEO Jean-Yves Charlier was one of the participants to the discussion on “What If: Privacy becomes a Luxury Good?”; and GSMA DG Mr Mats Granryd was one of the speakers on the press conference on “Future of Humanitarian Payments”.

Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Health co-chaired by the Head of Novartis Foundation, Dr Ann Aerts and Nokia’s CEO, Mr Rajeev Suri, launched its final report “Digital Health: A Call for Leadership and Cooperation between ICT and Health” at the Mobile World Congress 2017 Ministerial Program session in Barcelona on 27th February


Broadband Commission is pleased to greet Mr Börje Ekholm as the new CEO and President of Ericsson and new Broadband Commissioner.

Huawei and CSR Asia launched a white paper on technology in education across China and ASEAN. It focuses on the role of technology in achieving SDG4. As a follow up to the white paper, Huawei featured detailed infographics with statistics and core policy guidelines.

UN-OHRLLS has announced the regional meeting of the African LDCs on Accelerating Implementation of the IPoA within the context of the 2030 Agenda: A focus on Broadband in Dakar, Senegal, from February, 28 to March, 1, 2017. Greater investment in broadband connectivity will ensure positive transformations in LDCs’ economies and boost innovation.

Novartis Foundation presented the Working Group Digital Health report this past month at the monthly webinar hosted by the Global Digital Health Network with wide representation from major health companies and world humanitarian actors. Join the discussion on the most recent developments and challenges related to health.

Ericsson and the Finnish telecommunications group DNA Plc introduced the new 700 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband as of February 1, 2017, following the conditions of the radio license granted by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority. The spectrum previously used for digital television enables build-up of 4G capacity, particularly in sparsely populated areas.

VimpelCom Ltd. has announced its reinvention into VEON, a global tech company, which brings a revolutionary Internet mobile platform to hundreds of millions of customers in the markets. VEON is the name for both the company and its new personal internet platform, which integrates powerful data analytics and artificial intelligence to put the user in control.

Other News

The EU negotiators finally settled on wholesale prices to end mobile roaming charges for users when travelling abroad. As a follow up to the major decision, the EU also settled on new set of rules, allowing Europeans traveling within the EU to fully use their existing online subscriptions to various culture and entertainment online services.

Costa Rica to use digital dividend for mobile broadband and complete change from analogue TV to digital by mid-2017.
Algerian government adopted new telecommunications bill to open its unbundled local loops to alternative operators and monitor all international calls. New Radio Frequency Management Agency will be established and will monitor communications.
The small Caribbean island of Monserrat is moving forward with national rollout broadband program backed by British grant of nearly GBP 5 million. According to this program, by late 2018 every home on Monserrat should have superfast broadband connection. Furthermore, deployment of multiple community Wi-Fi hotspots is also in view.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to set first ever internet exchange point in Islamabad, which will allow users to access locally hosted content at higher speed.
New Zealand has entered second stage of Ultra-Fast broadband deployment program and is set to cover 85% of the population by 2024.
Russian MGTS (operator) together with MTS (part of VimpelCom) outlined a joint strategy to test 5G pilot zones in Moscow region under an overarching program for fixed/mobile technological deployment for 2017-2020 in the Moscow region.
Guadeloupe will be fully covered by FTTH by 2022, according to the Regional Council of Guadeloupe. The connection will be extended to less profitable areas, covering additional 42,000 households in 15 municipalities to already connected ones.

With Germany’s presidency at the G20 officially begun, one of the main agenda focuses this year will be various issues and challenges of digital transformation for G20 economies. With this view, upon Germany’s request, OECD prepared a report on key challenges in for digital transformation in G20 with assessment of economic performance with respect to digitalization and a range of policy recommendations for most pressing key challenges.

Mckinsey&Company launched a report “A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity” on automation and future of employment, encouraging modern society to embrace the potential benefits that machines and automated labor bring humanity by learning new skills and adapting to changing realities.

Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University issued a case study report “Citizens Take Charge: Concord, Massachusetts, Builds a Fiber Network” with an overview of a the creation of municipal smart grid and FTTH Internet in Concord, Massachusetts, and the benefits this project brought to the community.

The problem of bringing the other half of the world population online has never been as acute as it is now. USAID has featured a report “Connecting the Next Four Billion: Strengthening the Global response for Universal Internet Access”, where the authors bring together recommendations as a call to action for building on the progress to date and ensuring that the global community focuses on Internet access as a foundational element for sustained socioeconomic development.

Another report published by USAID “Closing the Access Gap” dwells upon closing the Internet access gap as part of achieving SDGs. This paper aims at understanding potential business model and technology innovations for accelerating access and adoption of mobile phones and the internet in emerging markets and inform the development community of innovations underway, as well as lessons emerging from these efforts.

Columns and Blogs

Following the Broadband Commission Special Session at WEF, UNDP features blog post with the official statement made by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, where she reiterates the urgent need to unite efforts in connecting the unconnected and enumerates related UNDO programs aimed at bringing broadband connection to rural and remote areas in different parts of the world.

Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Health successfully launched its report “Digital Health: A Call for Leadership and Cooperation between ICT and Health” at the Mobile World Congress 2017. Read the ITU blog to find out the reasons for this timely publication and what this reports call for as a preview of the report itself.

2017 is officially expected to be the year of exploring AI, which will be at the heart of many technological innovations to come. ITU outlines top trends in the tech world, focusing on the artificial intelligence, Internet of things and cloud of clouds.

Here are five trends and solutions that could help bring more girls and women into STEM. Comprising different opinions and interviews with five leading women in technology in science, the blog was produced as one of the means to commemorate International Day of Girls and Women in Science, which is celebrated annually February, 11.

On January, 16 government representatives, along with top UN, public, private, civil society and academic experts in statistics and data innovation gathered in Cape Town, South Africa, to take part in the UN World Data Forum, a three-day event exploring innovative ways in which data can support sustainable development and humanitarian action. The event was hosted by the UN Global Pulse.

Ericsson has announced a purely Internet of Things project by connecting water quality censors to the cloud. The procedure consists of using cellular networks to connect small sensors to the cloud for real-time data analysis. The results will be visible in any internet-connected device. As a potential benefit, real-time monitoring solution can serve as an early warning system to ensure that appropriate measures can be deployed quickly.

Microsoft outlined out a comprehensive set of clusters which need to be attacked in order to bring the unconnected online. The call to action lies greatly on the private sector in a joint effort with other respective stakeholders involved in bridging digital gap across countries and regions.


The Broadband Commission Spring meeting will be hosted by Huawei Technologies in Hong Kong on 16-17 March, 2017. The Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Gender Divide will be launching its report “Closing the Gender Gap in Internet Access and Use” on the 15th of March in Hong Kong. More information will be available on the official webpage of the Working Group. The report puts forward a set of recommendations for various stakeholders, who could narrow the gender gap in Internet access and use by following different concrete actions from the report.

UNESCO and UNHCR are co-hosting Mobile learning week 2017 on 20-24 March in Paris, France.

The sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women is to take place on 13-24 March in New York, USA.

ITU is hosting a special forum on Expanding the IoT potential with a special focus on smart cities on March, 12, 2017 in Dubai, UAE.

Newsletter Issue No 5, 2016

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

The Broadband Commission held its annual meeting on September 18 in New York alongside the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. More than 40 Commissioners and Special Guests discussed two specific challenges during this year’s meeting: firstly, how broadband can support the equitable provision of health and education in all countries and secondly, how to achieve the investment levels required for the rollout of global broadband infrastructure that connects everyone, everywhere.

The annual meeting followed up the publication of the State of Broadband 2016 – a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.

Habitat III

Copyright: Habitat III

The Broadband Commission issued an Open Statement to the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which took place in Quito, Ecuador from 17 to 20 October. The Commission called to acknowledge and support the crucial nature of global rollout of broadband infrastructure, which can boost economic growth and end poverty, achieve gender equality, improve human health and well-being and protect environment.

Climate Change

Copyright: COP 22

After reaching historical landmark in Paris on December 12, 2015 and signing The Agreement, the parties to the Convention on Climate Change reconvened in Marrakech on November 7 to 18, 2016 for the COP22. The Broadband Commission addressed the COP22 with an open statement, which stresses the role of the broadband in adapting to climate change, keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and delivering carbon savings on daily basis through a common and constructive effort.

Copyright: Broadband Commission

ITU Telecom World is the flagship annual ICT event, this year took place in Bangkok, Thailand from 14 to 17 November. Bringing together ICT leaders and experts from various countries, in 2016 the event focused on boosting broadband demand. During a plenary session «Reaching another billion: Understanding what works to stimulate ICT adoption» a report «Enabling the use of ICTs and Broadband: Understanding what works to stimulate ICT adoption» was presented by John Galvin, the Chair of the Broadband Commission Working Group on Demand. The Working Group report is a joint effort and a case-by-case look at demand creation programs, targeted to stimulate ICT adoption and increase the use and impact of technologies and broadband.

Other News
With the view of creating a Digital Single Market, the EU Commission adopted a set of initiatives and legislative proposals to move forward with the European Gigabit Society. Alongside creating a widespread and reliable 5G connection for European citizens, the Commission states that by 2025 all schools, transport hubs and main providers of public services as well as digitally intensive enterprises should have access to Internet connections with download/upload speeds of 1 Gigabit of data per second.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand released a statement on October to push forward a national plan to roll out a broadband Internet network in almost 4,000 villages at a cost of $325 million to promote broadband service access to remote areas.

The British Prime-Minister Theresa May pointed out that her government will address the problem of failing rural broadband in the UK more closely. The PM built her statement on the recent report “Building Gigabit Britain” by the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), which highlights the target of 80 per cent fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) across the country.
South African Telecommunications and Postal Services issued National integrated white paper on ICT policy on September, covering all main targets and new national policies in the domain with the overarching incentive to create a digital society and set a positive example for the neighboring countries.

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-16) agreed on a new Resolution calling for ITU’s standardization arm (ITU-T) to expand its study of the wireline networking innovations required to achieve the ambitious performance targets of smart 5G systems.
The Government of Dominican Republic decided to set 5,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas. This decision goes along the government strategy to improve connectivity throughout the country, especially in rural areas.

New Zealand follows suit and is set to extend broadband to rural areas where Internet blackspots are especially frequent. The extension program will cost New Zealand’s government $102 million and is part of the overall strategy to provide 99% of the population with Internet coverage by 2020.
Madagascar announced a public project to provide schools and hospitals with Internet broadband connection, also covering remote areas. The coverage is expected to be free of charge, or at least at a low cost in order to achieve maximum outreach.

Algerian government is debating new telecommunications bill, which is set to replace the old one dating back to 2000. The new bill, if adopted, will widen the coverage, enclose new virtual actors and possibly open access to alternative operators.



At the UN Private Sector Forum in September the GSMA presented its landmark report “2016 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals”, which analyses the mobile industry impact in achieving the SDGs. This report is a joint effort by the GSMA and Deloitte and serves as a benchmark for measuring strategy, planning and investment of mobile industry to the overarching role of SDGs.

Copyright: OECD Digital Government

On October the OECD Digital Government launched Toolkit designed to assist decision-makers in implementing OECD Recommendations for Digital Government Strategies through comparing various best practices shared across OECD countries. The Toolkit features 12 principles, good practices and self-assessment mechanism for digital governments.

Copyright: ITU

At the 14th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS-2016), which was held in Botswana from 21 to 23 November, the 2016 edition of Measuring the Information Society Report was launched. The report is widely recognized as the repository of the world’s most reliable and impartial global data and analysis on the state of global ICT development.

Copyright © 2016 Centre for International Governance Innovation and The Royal Institute for International Affairs

The report “One Internet” by the Global Commission on Internet Governance encouraged a consensus among all stakeholders, that the benefits of the Internet for humankind must not be put at risk. “Advancing a new normative framework, which accounts for the dynamic interplay between national security interests and the needs of law enforcement, while preserving the economic and social value of the Internet, is an important first step to achieving long-term digital trust.”

Copyright Internet Society

The Internet Society report: Global Internet Report 2016, launched in November 2016 seeks to increase awareness on the topic of data breaches and our collective responsibility to help secure the data ecosystem. It made recommendations on how to reduce the number and impact of data breaches.

ICT, Broadband and 17 Sustainable Development Goals – Columns & Blogs

ITU Secretary-General

Houlin Zhao shared views on how investing in broadband connectivity can help countries implement Paris Agreement. By grounding his argument on the example of Benin and how the national government there managed to merge ICTs and water supply system across the country, ITU Secretary-General shows that if combined together, the already established means to tackle climate change and new developments in the ICTs can bring significant change into the process. He stresses a pressing necessity of heavy investment into the area and creation of smart cities, which both can advance the Agreement.

Chief of the ITU Strategic Planning Department

Doreen Bogdan Martin, Chief of the ITU Strategic Planning Department, underlined the essential role of bridging digital gender divide at the ITU Telecom 2016 at Bangkok during the EQUALS Partnership meeting. She highlighted the global matter of digital gender divide, with the EQUALS partnership bringing representatives from private, public and civil sectors to promote digital equality in the ICTs.

Copyright ITU SPM

Director General of the GSMA

Mats Granryd and chair of the Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Gender Divide, also called on a joint effort to bridge the digital gender gap, which can also boost economic growth through equal and transparent cooperation across industries and national governments.

Copyright GSMA

Case Study

Through bridging the digital divide across the world the international community will steadily achieve the 17 SDGs. One case study brought by the World Bank of how a national digital leap is possible – in the course of the summer 2015 Tanzania completed a digital map of Zanzibar, breaking a record for the largest area in the world mapped entirely with drones.


UN High Representative

On September the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries and the Broadband Commissioners, Gyan Chandra Acharya, presented the report “State of Least Developed Countries 2016” as a follow up of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. Part of the report gives an overview of the Internet connections, mobile users and ICT spread in the countries, which are struggling through the development issues.

Photo Credit UNESCO

On November UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova took part in the Women Leaders and Global Transformation Summit, held within the framework of United Nations Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22), in Marrakech, Morocco. She reiterated that gender equality is an inherent part of the building resilience in terms of climate change. UNESCO Director-General highlighted also importance “to enrol girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, to provide them with the right set of tools. Putting the spotlight on great women scientists and leaders as role models can be a great source of inspiration.”

Broadband Rollout

In a short interview at the ITU Telecom 2016 Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director General, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the Broadband Commissioner, ushered international community to expand the broadband roll-out to transform various sectors in economies, enhance the health care systems across countries. He stressed the urgent need to work on affordability, accessibility and availability to widen the broadband coverage in the Asia Pacific

Universal Access

ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, shared his views about the universal access to internet being a new path to growth. At the occasion of the 3rd World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen, ITU Secretary-General authored an article highlighting that the connectivity chasm needs to be eliminated and put forward as an international policy priority, or we risk exacerbating global inequality.


During the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 6-9 December 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico, ITU and UNESCO will jointly host an Open Forum Session on the topic, “How can universal connectivity be used as catalyst for achieving the SDGs?” on 8 December 2016.

The Broadband Commission will host a special session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 17-20 January 2017 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The Broadband Commission Spring meeting will be hosted by Huawei Technologies in Hong-Kong on 16-17 March 2017.