Dig once: The no-brainer Internet policy the White House just endorsed

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

4 Billion People Are Still Without Internet.

The White House is out with a thick stack of proposals for spreading Internet access far and wide, and for speeding up the Web in places where competition is still lacking. United Nations (PNA/Xinhua) – Broadband Internet is failing to reach billions of people living in the developing world, including 90 percent of those living in the poorest nations, a new United Nations (UN) report said on Monday.

The UN Broadband Commission released ‘The State of Broadband’ report yesterday just ahead of the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals Summit here and the parallel meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development on September 26.One of the (many) reasons you’re very special is because of the United Nations Broadband Commission’s most-recent findings about the global state of Internet connectivity, released Monday.The United Nations’ Broadband Commission has published a new report whose headline finding is that 57 percent of the human population — or around 4.2 billion people — will still not have access to the internet by the end of 2015. The plan highlights the way President Obama has made broadband a pillar of his domestic agenda, setting goals for agencies ranging from the Department of Justice to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The report says that 57 per cent of the world’s people remain offline and unable to take advantage of the enormous economic and social benefits the Internet can offer. Though we may fancy ourselves to be denizens of a borderless interconnected world, the truth is that more than “half the world’s population—some 57 percent, or more than 4 billion people—still do not use the Internet regularly or actively,” Reuters noted. (And not for lack of trying.) Back in June, a Pew study showed that 15 percent of Americans don’t use the Internet. In other words, broadband isn’t just a matter for telecommunications nerds anymore: As more Americans come to view the Internet as a basic necessity, every part of the government is finding itself part of an overall broadband strategy. At the same time however, mobile cellular subscriptions exceeded 7 billion for the first time this year. “This year’s report finds mixed messages… Although strong growth rates continue for mobile broadband and Facebook usage, and mobile cellular subscriptions exceeded 7 billion for the first time during 2015, growth in global mobile cellular subscriptions and growth in Internet usage have slowed sharply,” the UN’s report said. The Broadband Opportunity Council Report released Monday calls for federal agencies to develop new rules and to streamline the way they give out funding for building Internet infrastructure and online services.

India ranked 80 among 133 developing countries on percentage of households with internet in 2014 with a 15.3 percent penetration as compared to the 75th rank and 13 per cent penetration in 2013. Expanding the internet to rural or remote areas is a challenge because it leads to “steep increases in marginal costs of network deployments for less densely populated or more remote areas, jeopardizing the viability of service provision on a commercial for-profit basis”. While access to Internet is approaching saturation levels in the developed world, the Net is only accessible to 35 percent of people in developing countries. And in general, the government wants to make it easier for private companies to invest in Internet pipes and cell towers, particularly on federal lands.

While these commitments promise to upgrade the country’s Internet infrastructure, the biggest step promotes a policy aimed at enhancing competition among Internet providers. The Republic of Korea continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration, with 98.5 percent of homes connected, followed by Qatar (98 percent) and Saudi Arabia (94 percent).

In fact, the report suggests that the number of mobile data subscriptions could come close to matching the number of normal cellphone subscriptions by 2020. There are now six economies where fixed broadband penetration exceeds 40 percent, these are Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Liechtenstein and France. Known as “dig once,” the idea helps lower the cost of laying down new high-speed Internet cables by making it unnecessary to tear up the streets every time a company wants to reach new homes with its underground network. The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for half of all active mobile broadband subscriptions with Macao, China easily taking top place with 322 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people.

For all the fun-poking that Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s internet drone receive, such initiatives could yet take the web to the rest of the 4 billion that aren’t online. Making it easier and less expensive to offer new Internet service could potentially result in lower Internet prices and improved speeds. “‘Dig Once’ policies promote broadband competition, reduce costs for broadband providers and decrease road-related costs from repeated excavation,” the report reads. Released annually in September in New York, it is the only report that features country-by-country rankings based on access and affordability for over 160 economies worldwide.

The Commission aims to boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and believes that expanding broadband access is key to accelerate progress. The Commission comprises a high-powered community, top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers, government representatives, international agencies and academia.

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