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Expert Group issues report on how best to address global broadband gap

February 26, 2018  

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The Expert Group of The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development today released a report at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona that urges policymakers, regulators and the private sector to address the “unacceptable, persisting digital exclusion” of half the world’s population.

Formed of private sector and government representatives, the Expert Group was convened by The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in March 2017 to identify specific steps that need to be taken to close the ongoing gap in broadband coverage and usage.

The report — A New Deal: Investing in Our Common Future – Policy Recommendations to Close the Broadband Gap” sets out specific actions for policymakers and regulators, addressing four key themes:

Healthy investment climate – including better broadband policy planning, stable regulatory conditions, and a smart strategy for generating public-sector revenue instead of targeted ICT taxes and fees.

Lower infrastructure supply costs – including greater sharing of telecommunications infrastructure and radio spectrum among operators; easier access to public infrastructure, rights of way and utility-owned fibre; openness to multi-technology approaches; release of more radio spectrum at lower cost and more flexible spectrum licensing.

Better functioning ICT markets– including completing market liberalization, particularly in international services, and ensuring that competition is effective, including a fair return for regulated access to dominant operators’ infrastructure; using new forms of partnership and innovative technologies; improving transparency and efficiency of universal service schemes and maximizing the opportunity of convergence, allowing all types of services over any network.

Liberating demand for the wider digital economy to encourage supply and investment– including government digital strategies, an enabling and risk-based approach to use and protection of data, and minimal restrictions on data and content crossing borders.

“In our increasingly digital world, connectivity is the difference for many people between accessing employment, education, healthcare, e-banking and being left behind,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU secretary general and co-vice chair of the Broadband Commission. “The important set of recommendations presented in the Expert Group’s report provide concrete actions that can be considered to fast-forward broadband delivery of digital connectivity. In particular, we need to create an enabling policy and regulatory environment that will attract investment in ICTs, especially from the private sector.”

The Expert Group was chaired by Philipp Metzger, director general, Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), Switzerland.

“Things don’t just happen — they are made to happen,” he said. “This holds true for the broadband gap and how we can close it. The policy recommendations included in this report are very concrete; they address pressing issues that are hampering the roll-out of digital networks and services to people who desperately need them.

The report can be downloaded at: