Some 177 countries have been ranked according to their national broadband policies and the economic impact that Internet access and use are having on their populations in a new United Nations report.
The report, which is the first produced by the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, evaluates the roll-out of broadband around the world and tracks progress on the affordability of this service across countries.
“Broadband networks and services are transforming our way of life. The Broadband Commission is committed to ensuring that the benefits of broadband are available to all,” said the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré.
The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All was released yesterday at the sixth meeting of the Commission in New York, and was welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called broadband a “transformative technology that has the potential to spark advances across all three pillars of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.”
The report reveals that while household Internet access has grown over the past year, individual Internet use continues to lag behind. ITU analysts believe that mobile broadband could be the platform that would help boost accessibility as it is a widely used technology. At the end of 2011, there were already almost twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband connections.
The report also outlines the ways in which broadband is improving the lives of people around the world in terms of health, education, and payment systems, as well as the ways in which it is promoting innovation and fostering the acquisition of new skills.
It also highlights the importance of partnerships between the public and private sectors, stressing the need for clear policy leadership to facilitate the deployment of broadband around the world.
In addition, the report presents a list of recommendations for governments on how to accelerate broadband deployment, improve their infrastructure and implement regulation policies to be able to make progress on the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report notes a strong linguistic shift taking place online and predicts that if current growth rates continue, the number of Internet users accessing the web, predominantly in Chinese, will overtake English language users by 2015.
“Multilingualism on the Internet can be a great enabler for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and contributing to building knowledge societies,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.