United front in achieving broadband for all
This week, during the Broadband Leadership Summit and ITU Telecom World 2011, it was great to see how far the Broadband Commission for Digital Development has come since its creation in 2010. The Commission is now well-recognized as an important advocate of broadband deployment as a key enabler to development.
When the Broadband Commission for Digital Development was set up by ITU and UNESCO in response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s call to increase efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, its main goal was to boost the importance of broadband access on the international policy agenda.
The Commission, which includes CEOs, industry leaders, senior policy makers, government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations, believes that high-speed, high-capacity broadband connections to the Internet are an essential element in modern society, which will create benefits in both social, economic and environmental terms.
The fourth meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development was held just before the Broadband Leadership Summit. The meeting brought about a lively debate on many issues. But the Commissioners, who include Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg, were all united on the main topic: advancing the global broadband agenda.
On day two of the meeting, this commitment culminated with the launch of the Broadband Challenge - a set of four ‘ambitious but achievable’ new targets that countries around the world should strive to meet in order to ensure that their citizens fully participate in tomorrow’s emerging knowledge societies.
The new targets, which cover policy, affordability and uptake, are that by 2015:
- All countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access/Service Definitions
- Entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces
- Forty percent of households in developing countries should have internet access
- Internet user penetration should reach 60 % worldwide, 50 % in developing countries and 15 % in Least Developed Countries.
The Broadband Challenge calls on governments and the private sector to work together to facilitate access to broadband around the world.
In the same way that the construction of electricity grids and transport links spurred innovation far beyond the dreams of their builders, high-speed broadband networks stimulate greater efficiency and the creation of new businesses. For society as a whole, they are a platform for progress.
For Ericsson, this is very much in line with our vision of the Networked Society, and it was clear from the discussion that it is no longer just about broadband access per se, but rather about broadband for education, health, and socio-econmonic development more broadly.