At the Davos forum a new global dialogue aimed at getting the next 1.5 billion unconnected people online was forged at a special session of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. .
The ITU discussion paper looks at key reasons for lack of connectivity and identified them as lack of infrastructure, lack of affordable services, lack of online skills, and lack of suitable digital content.
The paper’s global broadband connectivity cost estimate is based on the Broadband Commission’s own research combined with recent studies undertaken by governmental bodies such as the European Commission, global organisations including the World Bank, and industry bodies such as the GSMA, which represents many of the world’s mobile operators.
The working group pledged to connect 60% of the world’s people to the Internet by 2020, while stressing the importance of “striving for meaningful access, so that all those connected can take full advantage of the power of the online world”.
At present, the statement notes, only 5% 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”.