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