Broadband Commission calls for meaningful universal connectivity to drive global development

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development recently held their autumn meeting, during the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Baroness Kidron is a Commissioner, alongside CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, those working in academia and organisations concerned with development.

The aim of the Commission is to boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda, expanding broadband access in every country, and accelerating progress towards national and international development targets.

At the autumn meeting, Commissioners discussed: models for digital inclusion; launched the Broadband Commission’s annual report, ‘The State of Broadband’; and discussed upcoming reports by the Working Groups’ on Child Safety and Broadband for All.

The State of Broadband 2019 report showcases the state and trends in global broadband deployment. This year marks the first full year when more than half of the world has begun to participate online in the global digital economy. It also marks the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web, and 25 years since the first e-commerce transaction. Yet the report notes that traditional approaches to driving internet network roll-out and uptake are failing to reach the remaining half of the global population still lacking online access.

The report calls for new collaborative strategies to drive ‘meaningful universal connectivity’, emphasising resource sharing, and a holistic approach that treats broadband as a basic utility, and enabler of global development.

Houlin Zhao, Secretary General, ITU, said:

“This year’s State of Broadband report encourages us to think in terms of ‘meaningful universal connectivity,’ because digital inclusion can only be meaningful and effective if and when Internet users feel empowered to use the technology – and when the technology is affordable, attractive and safe.”

The Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Child Safety, co-chaired by Joanna Rubinstein, World Childhood Foundation, and Scott Gegenheimer, Operations with Zain, will launch its report on 1st October at the United Nations office in New York.

The Working Group noted that while millions of children are online, benefiting from access to information, education and entertainment, these children are also exposed to abuse and exploitation, including sexual abuse, bullying and even radicalization. The Working Group seeks to galvanize the global community around tangible agreed actions to ensure children everywhere are safe and protected online.