Broadband network needs $450 bn investment to connect the next 1.5 bn

EWE TEL broadband network in Germany
The estimated investment for broadband network infrastructure to connect the next 1.5 billion people by 2020 will be $450 billion, said ITU.

ITU revealed the estimate on future broadband investment at a special session of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development held at the World Economic Forum in Davos today.

The Discussion Paper developed by ITU looks at reasons for lack of connectivity, identified as lack of infrastructure, lack of affordable services, lack of online skills, and lack of suitable digital content.

The joint statement notes that only 3.2 billion people currently have online access, while 4.2 billion people remain offline. In the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries, Internet penetration is less than 10 percent, falling to under 2 percent in six of the world’s most disadvantaged nations.

The Joint Statement pledges a concerted global effort to connect 60 percent of the world’s people to the Internet by the year 2020, in line with ITU’s Connect 2020 Agenda agreed by the organization’s 193 Member States in 2014.

At present only 5 percent of the world’s languages are represented online, an estimated 781 million adults are illiterate, and 100 million children have not had access to complete primary education – creating large pockets of the ‘digitally excluded’.

The 2015 edition of the Broadband Commission’s State of Broadband report confirms that global Internet roll-out is failing to reach those who could benefit most, with Internet access reaching near-saturation in the world’s rich nations but not advancing fast enough to benefit billions of people living in the developing world – especially in rural and remote areas.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “Market forces have been sufficient to connect the world’s wealthier nations, where a strong business case for network investment can easily be made. Our big challenge is to find fast and effective ways of connecting the next 1.5 billion people.”

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