Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Broadband Commission for Digital Development


In May of this year, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) announced the establishment of a new body - the Broadband Commission for Digital Development - which "will define strategies for accelerating broadband rollout worldwide and examine applications that could see broadband networks improve the delivery of a huge range of social services, from healthcare to education, environmental management, safety and much more."

"Governments now need to view broadband networks as basic national infrastructure", according to the press release, and "governments and regulatory agencies should be strongly fostering broadband development". The commission will analyse "the challenges and opportunities in deploying broadband in nations at all stages of economic development" - so clearly not an initiative solely focusing on developing nations. The launch of the Commission builds on previous ITU initiatives like Build on Broadband and the Connect a School, Connect a Community programme discussed in this previous post.

The Commission met for the first time on 11 July 2010 in Geneva, to define "a vision for accelerating the deployment of broadband networks worldwide, with the aim of improving the delivery of services across a huge range of social and business sectors, and accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)". From the ITU press release:
"(The Commission) will deliver its outcomes to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 19 September 2010 at an official side event of the UN MDG Summit in New York, which starts on September 20. These outcomes will be presented in the form of two reports, the first of which will reflect expert input from the Commissioners, and the second of which will comprise in-depth analysis of the challenges and opportunities in deploying broadband across a range of different types of economies. The first report will also include a series of top-level recommendations designed to serve as a global blueprint for rapid broadband development worldwide, while the second report will take into account local needs, financing constraints and technical hurdles, and make practical proposals on possible routes towards deployment of ubiquitous high-speed networks at affordable prices in every country worldwide."
It occurs to me that many developing nations have an opportunity to leapfrog more developed nations in relation to broadband development, by deploying next generation infrastructure from the outset? I await the Commission's two reports with interest.

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