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.