Broadband Internet access critical catalyst to Asia-Pacific development – UN forum

29 July 2009

The importance of speedy Internet access to stimulate economic growth across Asia and the Pacific was underlined by participants of a regional United Nations information and communications technology (ICT) gathering that wrapped up in Indonesia today.

Policy-makers, regulators, academics and the private sector representatives attending the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) forum stressed the importance of broadband internet access in leveling the economic playing field for the region, as well as the necessity of global collaboration to ensure the widest possible availability of future services to all users.

“This Asia-Pacific Regional Development Forum underlines the role of broadband as a catalyst for bridging the digital divide and for turning the challenges of today’s economic crisis into new opportunities,” said Sami Al-Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).

“Broadband access, through both fixed and wireless infrastructures, will clearly be one of the key focus areas for ICT development in this fast-moving region,” Mr. Al-Basheer told the three-day meeting in Yogyakarta.

ITU Regional Development Forum (RDF) heard that although Japan and the Republic of Korea have broadband penetration rates of 32 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, less developed nations within the region are still struggling to provide basic telephone and Internet access, with less than 1 per cent of the population in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar using the Internet.

ITU organized the Asia-Pacific RDF, which attracted 105 participants from 17 countries, in close collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Special Province Area of Yogyakarta.

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