The annual report The State of Broadband 2016: Broadband catalyzing sustainable development published by the Broadband Commission assesses the current state of broadband worldwide and explores not only its role in underpinning inclusive and sustainable development, but also the necessary framework conditions to enable affordable, universal and available Internet access to be achieved.
Pushing basic connectivity out beyond major urban centres to more remote areas continues to prove a major challenge. Even where people have access to the Internet, access has to be accompanied by a range of relevant services and content to help improve individuals’ personal awareness, education and hygiene, as well as development outcomes in health and education at the national level.
The report is structured in 6 chapters:
1. Introduction: This chapter gives an overview of the role of affordable and effective broadband connectivity as a vital enabler of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection through some economic evidence.
2. Maximizing the Benefits of our Connected Future: This chapter reviews current global trends in broadband and developments in the next generations of mobile broadband (5G), fixed broadband and satellite broadband systems. Growth in Social Media Users
3. Evaluating Global Growth Using the Commission’s Targets: This chapter explores progress towards achieving the Broadband Commission’s targets, first established in 2011, with an initial end-date of 2015. As it is noted, some of these targets are met (such as making broadband policy universal), some of them are supposed to be achieved by 2016 (such as household internet access and internet user penetration). However, there seems to be backwards progress in one of the targets related to gender equality in access to broadband Internet. Gender Gaps in Internet Usage and Mobile Phone Ownership
4. Harnessing Broadband for Sustainable Development: This chapter explores promising new uses and applications of ICTs for development (ICT4D), including mobile, satellite and the Internet of Things (IoT). These applications range from the very large-scale continental-sized coverage possible through satellites, to the very small-sized sensors and devices enabled by the IoT.
5. Smart Ways to Promote Knowledge Cities: This chapter explores the implications of ‘city smartening’ processes for turning major urban centers into smart cities or knowledge cities. Although greater efficiency is incredibly valuable for businesses and services in cities around the world, smart technologies are not considered the ‘solution’ to sustainable urban development. In this context, this chapter presents a more human-centred approach of development, explaining why knowledge cities should focus on greater inclusion, pluralism, participation and gender equality among others.
6. Policy Recommendations to Maximize Access to Broadband: The final chapter concludes by making a number of policy recommendations to promote broadband as a foundation for sustainable development. Some of these recommendations are the following:
- Review and update regulatory frameworks for broadband and IoT.
Encourage investment by both the public and private sectors
Consider infrastructure-sharing and open access approaches to infrastructure
Reduce taxes and import duties on telecom/ICT equipment & service
Encourage local content and the local hosting of content
Benchmark and monitor ICT developments