Broadband is a basic human need
The Social Good Summit agenda is packed with different projects led by enthusiastic civic leaders, Hollywood stars, and corporate visionaries. Near the end of the day yesterday, our President and CEO Hans Vestberg joined Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecoms Union, to talk about their passion for broadband and improving the world.
The panel started with a review of the state of broadband today. One-third of the world has broadband connectivity; 112 countries have national broadband plans. This is a good start, but Touré and Hans say let’s do more. They talked about using broadband to improve services in government, health, education, and socio-economics across the board. The Broadband Commission, headed by Touré and in which Hans is a Commissioner, is today handing over recommendations to the UN Secretary-General about how to keep momentum in broadband and its transformative potential.
The moderator, Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief of Mashable, then asked the audience:
“How many of you think broadband is a privilege?” Most of the audience members raised their hands.
“How many of you think broadband is a basic human need?” Again, many in the audience raised their hands but Hans was the fastest.
Maybe that’s an easy one, you’re thinking, that the head of Ericsson thinks broadband is a basic human right because it’s our core business. But the reality is that things really do transform with broadband, and it should be accessible by everyone. The topic continued into the blogger roundtable immediately after the panel discussion – can we really insist that it is basic? Yes, yes, and yes.
Example: Over dinner in New York this week, a personal friend of mine told a story about her tween niece starting middle school this year. The letter came from school: Please send your children to school with a connected device.
Another example: The audience here at Social Good Summit managed to get the topic trending on Twitter within two hours of starting. This conversation is happening online, where broadband connectivity is giving attendees a voice. And this entire summit is being webcast in seven different languages. Broadcasting on broadband, so that this conversation covers thousands of miles and thousands of opinions.
I would argue: people will always seek information. Enabling access to information can only make things better. Working together can only make things better. It is our basic human right to continue doing so.