Open letter from Broadband Commission to G20 Leaders Meeting

Telecom Lead India: As the G20 Leaders prepare to meet in
Mexico, we urge you to support the development of the broadband infrastructure
and broadband-enabled applications and services which enable digital economies
to grow and provide benefits to societies across the globe.

Investments in broadband have a vital role to play, both
in moving the global economy back onto a higher growth trajectory, and in
generating sustainable social and economic growth. Like water, roads, rail and
electricity before it, broadband is of fundamental importance to the social and
economic development of all nations. However, Investments must not be focused
only on infrastructure development, – they must also provide for advanced
online services, locally relevant content and services, and support for media
and information literacy development to address inequity and deliver broadband
inclusion for all.

Networked information and communication technologies
(ICTs) play an ever-increasing role in all societies, with 2.4 billion people
using the Internet, more than a billion mobile broadband subscriptions
worldwide, and telecommunications service revenues now exceeding two trillion
US dollars annually.

In the Information Society of the 21st century, countries
must make the necessary investments to enable their citizens to participate in
and benefit from the digital economy and globally-spread innovation or risk
exclusion. In particular, broadband enabled technologies are stimulating fresh
innovation and inspiring a new generation of digital entrepreneurs to create
new applications, services, and content. Broadband moves innovation into
people’s hands and homes, allowing end users to take on new roles as entrepreneurs,
software developers, lobbyists, activists, journalists and other content

The digital era will produce a whole new range of digital
careers and industries which do not yet exist and are hardly even imaginable
today. ICTs and broadband generate great technological dynamism and reduce
barriers to entry, offering opportunities for small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs to challenge existing hierarchies, to
innovate, to compete, and to grow.

In planning the roll-out and development of broadband
networks, a mix of technologies will typically be required, recognizing the
varying needs of users and the complementary roles of  both fixed andmobile solutions. The aim is not to promote any
particular technological solution, but to deliver the benefits of broadband to
all citizens.


While fixed networks continue to provide the necessary
backbone and core data capacity, they are complemented by mobile networks and
devices that put broadband applications and services directly into the hands of
users.  High-speed broadband enables online collaboration (including
social networking and crowdsourcing), user-generated content, and locally
relevant new services to drive innovation, helping to transform people’s lives
in both developed and developing countries alike.

For global broadband roll-out to contribute most to
development, human activity must transform information into  knowledge
that can support individual empowerment and  sustainable  social and
economic development, including institutional and political transformation and
the  development of knowledge societies that rest on four pillars: freedom
of expression; quality education for all; universal access to information and
knowledge; and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity. Broadband
development cannot be limited to technical infrastructure; the availability of
relevant broadband enabled content, applications and services in multiple
languages should also be ensured.

While government plays a key role – for example in
helping to put in place pro-competitive and pro-investment policies for
communications markets, lowering barriers to entry, as well as direct
investment, where appropriate – the business sector remains a fundamental part
of the equation.

With the enormous potential of broadband in mind, the
Broadband Commission endorsed  four advocacy targets for making broadband
universal and boosting affordability and broadband uptake – and we urge
governments to work towards achieving these targets:

Target 1: Making broadband policy universal. By 2015, all
countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include
broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.

Target 2: Making broadband affordable. By 2015,
entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing
countries through adequate regulation and market forces (amounting to less than
5 percent of average monthly income).

Target 3: Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40
percent of households in developing countries should have Internet access.

Target 4: Getting people online. By 2015, Internet user
penetration should reach 60 percent worldwide, 50 percent in developing
countries and 15 percent in LDCs.

To realize the full potential benefits of broadband
access for all, developing country populations must also be engaged and have
the same opportunities as those in the developed world to contribute to the
evolution of the global digital economy.

We therefore ask the G20 leaders to consider the vital
contribution that broadband and broadband enabled  applications and
services can make to global and sustainable social and economic development and
recognize broadband as a key enabling framework.

The on-going work of the Broadband Commission for Digital
Development will assist in promoting the development of the Internet economy in
the G20 member states as well as across all other economies.

We look forward to further opportunities to work together
towards our common goals.

Broadband Commission for Digital Development
[email protected]