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UN rolls out action plan to expand global broadband access

UN rolls out action plan to expand global broadband access

The United Nations telecommunications agency’s quadrennial development conference wrapped up today with participants adopting a plan of action to promote the global development of information and communication technology (ICT) networks and services.

“Broad access to telecommunications and ICTs is essential for the world’s collective economic, social and cultural development, and the building of a global Information Society,” says the Hyderabad Action Plan, reached at the end of the World Telecommunication Development Conference, which was hosted by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and held in the Indian city.

“This access brings new opportunities for interaction amongst people, for sharing of the world’s knowledge resources and expertise, for transforming people’s lives, and for contributing to the global development agenda,” it added.

The Plan identified five key areas through which to promote the equitable and sustainable development of telecommunication and ICT networks worldwide, including cybersecurity and capacity-building.

“The increasing role of ICT in the life of the common man cannot be overemphasized,” said P. J. Thomas, Chairman of the three-week meeting and Secretary of the Department of Telecommunications of the Indian Government.

Participants pledged to promote affordable access to ICTs in a bid to foster sustainable development, focusing on the least developed countries and nations with special needs. They also recognized new opportunities for the use of ICTs to improve e-government services, such as healthcare, and towards efforts to alleviate poverty, especially among poor and marginalized populations.

The ITU announced earlier this year that the number of individual mobile cellular subscriptions is likely to top 5 billion this year.

“Yet the digital divide remains, particularly where accessibility to broadband services and the Internet is concerned,” Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, said at the close of the Hyderabad meeting.

“This broadband divide must be addressed by governments and industry as a priority if we are to fully utilize the capacity of ICTs to meet the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” he said, referring to the eight targets with a 2015 deadline.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the meeting in Hyderabad, drawing representatives from 138 countries and dozens of companies and both regional and international organizations.