India slips in broadband penetration rankings: UN report

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Internet growth slows; most people still offline: United Nations.

The United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission on 21 September 2015 released the State of Broadband Report 2015. KARACHI: Pakistan is one of the lowest-ranked countries in the world when it comes to an access of citizens to fast mobile internet services, suggested the United Nations’ data on Monday – indicating that the country is yet to take measures to achieve sustainable economic development on the back of information and communication technology.UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (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 UN report said on Monday. The commission, set up in 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union and UNESCO, the UN scientific and cultural agency, said the milestone of four billion Internet users was unlikely to be passed before 2020. “Over half the world’s population – some 57%, or more than 4 billion people – still do not use the Internet regularly or actively,” the report said. The changes range from allowing community recreation centers to tap into a $2.3 billion program to pay for high-speed internet, to collecting more data on who is and who isn’t able to access broadband, to making it easier for service providers to lay cables beneath federal lands.

The report reveals that 57 percent of the world’s people remain offline and unable to take advantage of the enormous economic and social benefits the Internet can offer. It blamed the cost of extending last-mile infrastructure to rural and remote customers, and a sharp slowdown in the growth of mobile cellular subscriptions globally.

The actions come as a result of the Broadband Opportunity Council’s first report on expanding access to high-speed internet, which is being released today. The council was formed by President Obama earlier this year, with the goal of ensuring that the federal government is doing everything within its current powers to encourage the deployment of broadband. 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.

That means there are no new funding programs here, but existing sources of funding are being opened up and barriers to deployment are being brought down. There are now six economies where fixed broadband penetration exceeds 40 percent, these are Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Liechtenstein and France.

It said the sale of SIM cards posted a significant growth during 2005-2009 as Islamabad brought down the sales tax rates on SIM cards “to a quarter of their preceding level”. 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). It’s instructing all government agencies to amend relevant programs so that their resources can be used to make investments in the rollout of high-speed internet. 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.

The commission recommended several other supply- and demand-side measures, including co-deployment, sufficient availability of quality spectrum, expanding network coverage, development of technical standards to improve economies of scale and quality of services and lowering prices. The council estimates that up to $10 billion worth of federal programs will be opened up through these actions, though of course only a portion of that will end up being used for broadband. For the demand-side measures, the report advised that the policymakers should ensure availability and affordability of broadband-enabled devices and services for poor and at-risk households, development of local content and broadband applications, promoting effective ICT skills and literacy. “Governments and regulators should carry out a detailed review and analysis of the shortfalls in their own markets and the regulatory options available to address them,” the commission said. “Countries with more innovative ‘fourth-generation regulation’ are generally associated with higher levels of mobile broadband penetration and growth – ITU has found that growth in services has happened most rapidly where regulatory enablers (eg industry consultations, infrastructure sharing) have been put in place to leverage the latest technologies and innovations.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to begin requiring that most new residential projects it funds include plans for broadband support; units undergoing major renovation will be required to include broadband plans, too. 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. To make sure that towns and cities are aware of these programs, the Commerce Department has committed to creating a “portal” that’ll round up the grants and programs available to assist with broadband deployment. Basically, a local organization should be able to visit its portal and find information on all federal funding as well as best practices for actually getting cables in the ground and usable. 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.

That includes encouraging communities to adopt “dig once” policies, which allow fiber or other cables to be laid when digging is done for unrelated projects. The Commission comprises a high-powered community, top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers, government representatives, international agencies and academia. The intention is to reduce the time and cost on internet providers that want to deploy infrastructure on federal land, which may be a necessity in certain areas — particularly in locations where infrastructure is already lacking. In total, the council’s report highlights 36 actions that federal agencies are committing to taking, with timelines set out for each of them that stretch across the next 18 months. The council intends to keep working with agencies to see that these actions are implemented, while continuing to look for ways that the government can increase broadband deployment.

Notably, some major actions can only be taken by the FCC — an independent agency — and therefore aren’t covered in this report; but the FCC has been taking its own actions too, including modernizing its Lifeline program to subsidize high-speed internet for low-income households.

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