Newsletter Issue No. 6 2020

Nearly half the global population aged 10 years and over – equating to some three billion people – has never used the Internet. Many of the unconnected live in rural and remote areas, where connectivity remains a challenge. A disproportionate number are women, particularly in Africa and South Asia, where the digital gender divide is particularly marked. And of course, most are poor, lack basic literacy and, with only limited digital exposure, see little value in getting online. 

With just ten years remaining to meet the SDGs, this timely new report asks: What will it take to connect the world? How much investment is needed, where are the global ‘pain points’, and how can we mobilize the unprecedented levels of financing needed to extend networks to unserved communities? 


Digital applications now permeate all aspects of the economy and society, enabling us to access government services, make mobile payments, play games, listen to music, watch movies, travel more efficiently, and so on. With digital transformation affecting every aspect of our lives, this also poses new challenges for regulatory structures that have traditional been organized on a sectoral or domain basis. The ITU World Bank Digital Regulation Platform and Handbook aims to provide practical guidance and best practice for policy makers and regulators across the globe concerned with harnessing the benefits of the digital economy and society for their citizens and firms. 

The Digital Regulation Platform provides an update and revised version of the ICT Regulation Toolkit.  The 2020 Digital Regulation Handbook, originally published as the Telecommunication Regulation Handbook, and now updated to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication and provides more detailed guidance and case studies of best practice in regulation of the digital economy.

Thematic areas include:  

  • Regulatory governance and independence 
  • Competition and economics  
  • Access for all 
  • Consumer affairs 
  • Data protection and trust 
  • Spectrum management 
  • Emerging technologies
  • Technical regulation
  • Emergency communications 

Please visit the Digital Regulation Online Platform for more regulatory analysis and approaches! 

Broadband Commission member Nokia continues its commitment to reaching universal connectivity. This year they have published an e-book entitled, How do we create inclusivity in a digital future?: Building a better world with broadband technologies. The book defines the digital divide, bringing light to the considerable impact broadband can have in developing communities and suggests solutions through alternative technologies and policy reform.  

The ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference, known as WTDC, sets the strategies and objectives for the global digital development agenda. Held every four years, it represents a unique opportunity for the international community to gather and discuss the future of the tech sector and its contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The next WTDC will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 8 to 19 November 2021. Hosted by the Government of Ethiopia, WTDC-21 will be preceded by a Youth Summit. 

On 9 November, a special virtual session, hosted by ITU, formally launched the WTDC-21 countdown and the Road to Addis series and introduced the role of WTDC in helping to advance connectivity for all. The session presented today’s global digital development challenges and opportunities and proposed solutions for discussions at WTDC. 

The Road to Addis is building momentum towards WTDC, strengthens partnerships and engagement and helps to shape with key stakeholders the WTDC agenda. The events focus on specific issues relevant to digital development and feature the participation of key stakeholders.

Published by the Web Foundation, the Women’s Rights Online report — Closing the digital gender gap for a more equal world — illustrates barriers that prevent women from accessing and using the internet, as well as the challenges limiting their experience online. It calls for governments and companies to embrace policies that can bridge this divide and help make the internet a driving force for equality. 

We are excited to highlight the work of the Working Group on AI & Health as an example of “best practices” for Working Group communications and continued outreach. We hope that this example can provide both inspiration as well as a template for organization of future communications. 

Since its publication this September, we have seen active promotion from Working Group Members as well as links to related events!  

The very nature of the Internet – a layered architecture, a common protocol, a global routing system, and an architecture that supports innovation – has proven its importance. The Internet has become a lifeline for those that have it, and it no longer is an option. the Internet Society has been deploying efforts over the years to grow the Internet and make it stronger. 

The new pandemic, COVID-19 has been spreading all around the world, causing a huge impact on economic and social crisis. While the world is still fighting against the COVID-19 over the past few months, find out why South Korea has been touted as one of the most successful countries in responding to COVID-19. 

A lot has happened since the launch of the Microsoft Airband Initiative in 2017. This case study highlights important progress and lessons learned, including in facing a pandemic.  These experiences have reinforced Microsoft’s belief that the rural broadband gap can be eliminated by 2022. 


The government of Japan has promoted various strategic plans for broadband deployment since 2000. As a result, as of March 2019, the coverage of high-speed fixed broadband capable of delivering at least 30 Mbps download had reached 99.5%, and wireless broadband had reached 99.9%. This was achieved by developing a competitive environment in the telecommunications business field with the private sector’s investment as the main principle. In addition, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, in partnership with local governments, has supported broadband deployment in disadvantaged areas in order to bridge the digital divide. Japan believes that these achievements could contribute towards progress for No.1 and No. 3 of the Broadband Commission’s 2025 targets. 

AI platform in São Paulo, Brazil helps diagnose COVID-19 patients faster. See how the Novartis Foundation is partnering with the local government and University Hospital of São Paulo to help develop a national ecosystem for innovation, data science and AI in health. 

The ORANGE strategic plan called Engage 2025 renews its environmental and societal commitments and formulates ambitious engagements (1) to fight global warming by achieving carbon neutrality in 2040 – 10 years before the mobile industry commitment through GSMA – and (2) to reduce the digital divide by expanding network coverage, providing inclusive offers and affordable smartphones, offering training and coaching. 

The availability of advanced digital communication infrastructure and advanced digital services is integral to preparedness for embracing a sustainable future. Likewise, building a sustainable 5G ecosystem, in which Telecom Operators have a significant role to play, is critical for driving digital transformation in any given economy, and for meeting national socio-economic transformation objectives. See how the SAMENA Council is approaching the implementation of broadband and 5G in this region.  

The SMART Broadband 2025 Strategy led by the republic of Senegal is an ambitious initiative to deliver increased affordability and access to broadband connectivity by 2025 to Africa that will unleash opportunities of emerging digital economy and position Africa as a player in the 4th Industrial Revolution. It achieves this by enhancing broadband interconnectivity in Africa, breaking cross border barriers and being a foundational building block to realize a Single Digital Market by 2030. This case study details this strategy’s initiatives in addition to their COVID19 Response

It is now irrefutable that access to the internet is an essential public service. While most vulnerable countries have made progress towards increasing access to ICTs, particularly mobile service, the majority have no access to the Internet. The gap in Internet usage between more developed countries and the vulnerable countries is very stark. Most people in vulnerable countries, especially LDCs, do not fully benefit from the rapid expansion of digital technology and the opportunities it offers. This study explores barriers and solutions to closing the digital divide.  

The Equals in Tech Awards are given every year to organizations and individuals working to help girls and women gain equal internet access, digital skills and opportunities in the tech industry.  

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists of the 2020 Equals in Tech Awards! 

Tue, Nov 24, 2020 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM EST
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