The world will need a combined global investment of $450 billion to connect the next 1.5 billion unconnected people across the globe.
This forms part of a new Discussion Paper developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and presented today at a special session of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development held at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The session was part of Broadband Commission’s efforts to build momentum and reach out to world leaders to push the issue of broadband connectivity to the top of the global agenda.
The paper looks at key reasons for lack of connectivity, identified as lack of infrastructure, lack of affordable services, lack of online skills, and lack of suitable digital content.
According to the ITU, the paper’s global broadband connectivity cost estimate is based on the Broadband Commission’s own research combined with recent studies undertaken by governmental bodies such as the European Commission, global organisations including the World Bank, and industry bodies such as the GSMA, which represents many of the world’s mobile operators.
The session culminated in the release of a Joint Statement by the group entitled Working Together to Provide Internet Access to the Next 1.5 billion by 2020. The statement notes that only 3.2 billion people currently have online access, while 4.2 billion people remain offline.
The Joint Statement pledges a concerted global effort to connect 60% of the world’s people to the Internet by the year 2020, in line with ITU’s Connect 2020 Agenda agreed by the organisation’s 193 Member States in 2014.
It also stresses the importance of striving for meaningful access, so that all those connected can take full advantage of the power of the online world.
At present, the statement notes, only 5% of the world’s languages are represented online, an estimated 781 million adults are illiterate, and 100 million children have not had access to complete primary education – creating large pockets of the ‘digitally excluded.’
[blockquote right=”pull-right”]“The session culminated in the release of a Joint Statement by the group entitled Working Together to Provide Internet Access to the Next 1.5 billion by 2020. The statement notes that only 3.2 billion people currently have online access, while 4.2 billion people remain offline.” [/blockquote]