The Broadband Commission has recommended action in four areas in its annual report to the UN Secretary-General.
The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All report from the Broadband Commission for Digital Development recommends measures in policy, pricing, infrastructure build-out, and content development. The commission delivered its report September 23.
Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecom Union (ITU) and co-vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission, says that the state of broadband today is good, but could be even better. "One-third of the world’s population is connected to broadband. The good news is that the other two-thirds can be connected if we put the right partnership model together. That means governments, the private sector, civil society and consumer groups each must play their different but complementary roles together."
One hundred twelve countries have national broadband plans. Touré says that all countries must adopt their own national broadband plans, but incorporating lessons from the others. "We must scale on that front, so we do not reinvent the wheel or make the same mistakes," he said. The 2012 report recommends that all countries have a national broadband plan, consider how they tax Information and Communications Technology industry players, and urges each group to develop content in health, education, and government services as a starting point.
Touré appeared on a panel with Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg at the Social Good Summit, held at the 92Y in New York, with partners and sponsored by Ericsson, Mashable, the UN Foundation, UN Development Program, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During the panel session, both Vestberg and Touré enthusiastically supported the idea of broadband as a basic human right.
Touré explained further: "We are in the information society but our ultimate goal is a knowledge society. Access is not enough. You have to use information in a local language, to create information – every person on this planet is a potential source of information, and sharing. Information is the only thing that is multiplied when shared. Everything else is divided when shared. That’s powerful, so we need to set the stage for a knowledge society where everyone will have (access to) its full potential thanks to ICT."
The Broadband Commission was launched in 2010 as an advocacy group to help raise awareness of the role broadband can play in helping meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. This is the second full report to the Secretary-General: the first report presented case studies and information on financing models; this one contains specific recommendations, one of which is the "dig once" strategy.
Touré describes it as such: "When you have a big infrastructure project, roads, railroads, pipelines and so on, you roll out fiber alongside. The cost of that would be minimal compared to if you have to re-dig."
He is optimistic about the recommendations being received well. "Among the eight MDGs, goal number eight – dealing with partnership and ICT – is the only one likely to be met ahead of time. mICT can help us then meet goals for the others, within health, education, job and wealth creation as opposed to poverty alleviation."
However, he is quick to remind that technology itself is "just a tool to meet other goals. And those are social and economic development."
Read the full report at www.broadbandcommission.org