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.