WASHINGTON, February 25, 2013 – A recent wrap-up of global broadband news included the following items:
Leading Indian Cable Operator Speaks to Expanding Telecommunications Climate
In preparation for the coming “TV Connect Asia” summit in Hong Kong, InCablenet, India’s leading cable provider, has recently spoken about their support of improving telecommunications in India. Ravi Mansukhani, managing director of InCablenet, said, “India is one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world. The government plans to make available affordable, reliable and secure telecommunication and broadband services across the entire country. The target is to have 175 million broadband connections by 2017 and 600 million by 2020.” India has yet to make the transition from analog to digital television. However, it recently adopted its own national broadband policy. The first phase of the analogue to digital conversion is set to be completed by the end of March. This conversion will immediately impact the major cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
New Zealand Government Attempts to Maximize Education Through Broadband
A recent opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald called on the local and federal governments to continue to support and improve broadband availability. Speaking with great attention to the education system, author Nikki Kaye discussed the Kiwi government’s plan to improve schools via broadband. Kaye states that “our government has invested significantly in ensuring New Zealand school children have access to the best, most innovative 21st century learning opportunities. This includes more than $200 million connecting schools to ultra-fast broadband. The plan is to ensure schools will be connected to fibre or an alternative technology by 2016. We are nearly halfway there with more than 1,200 schools connected.” Kaye went on explain the challenge in maximizing new technologies into the educational infrastructure. “Adopting the right approach to 21st century learning will require change across the education sector. It is important to recognize that much of this change is being driven by students themselves, who are thirsty to learn online through new applications, tools and content.”
Attempts Made to Bridge Mongolian Digital Divide
Mongolian internet provider Nomsys LLC has selected Ruckus Wireless Inc to provide Wi-Fi devices to increase broadband technology in the capitol city of Ulaanbaatar, according to marketwatch.com. “The large-scale Wi-Fi network, known as the Community Involved Nomad Wi-Fi project, is currently being deployed by Nomsys throughout Ulaanbaatar, bringing Wi-Fi service to consumers and businesses via hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the rural countryside where 70 percent of the city’s one million residents live.” This application is predicted to help Mongolia continue to embrace a mobile and digital structure as opposed to being tethered to wireline infrastructure. Due to the modest economic climate of even the most densely-populated areas of Mongolia, a move to increase Wi-Fi availability could allow users to interact with broadband technologies previously outside of their price range.
Lorraine Kipling: Broadband Affordability Around the World Reflects a Global Digital Divide
More than half of the world’s population is online, but many people are still unable to access the resources and opportunities that the internet provides.
Meaningful connectivity has wide-reaching benefits in terms of work, education, and communication. In 2016, the UN declared that the internet was so embedded into modern life, that it constitutes a human right. Good internet access can not only vastly improve quality of life on an individual level, but has a positive impact on global economic and society.
‘Good internet access’ requires access to devices, digital literacy support, and sufficient and affordable strong broadband supply. However, in many countries, the high cost of getting online is a significant barrier for people with low incomes.
According to the Alliance for Affordable Internet, even the commonly used target for an ‘affordable’ internet costing 5 percent or less than the average monthly income would still exclude a significant proportion of the population from accessing the internet. They suggest that a 2 percent target would be more affordable.
Information from NetCredit based on global broadband prices with World Bank data
A recent study by NetCredit collated information on global broadband prices with World Bank data on average salaries in different countries. This series of infographics shows the percentage of the average income people need to pay to get online, as well as how much it costs for a strong and reliable broadband connection of 10Mbps.
The results clearly show that there continues to be a strong digital divide between the rich and poor in many countries.
Just as the income gap varies greatly from country to country, so does the extent of the digital divide. Of the 174 countries the study obtained data on, only 44 had broadband access costing below the 2 percent ceiling of affordability, and 77 had access below 5 percent. In 63 countries the cost of the internet was more than 10 percent of the average income, and in 11 of those countries it costs more than 100 percent what the average person earns to get online.
The study shows that cost of broadband access is well below the ceiling of affordability in countries with relatively high average salaries, such as Saint Martin (0.63 percent of the $3,903.91 average salary), Israel (0.68 percent of $2,912.46), and Monaco (0.68 percent of $5,043.69). Countries with strong economies such as San Marino, Germany, and Luxembourg were also under 1 percent.
In Yemen, meanwhile, where civil war has contributed to one of the poorest and least-developed economies in the world, broadband access is out of the reach of all but a tiny minority of extremely wealthy people. While the average monthly income for a Yemeni person is just $88.33, a broadband internet package costs 2792.50 percent of that ($2,466.67), and a 10Mbps package is vastly more expensive than even that.
Many African nations where internet costs more than the average monthly income
From the data available, there were 10 other countries whose internet packages cost higher than 100 percent of the average monthly income. These countries are all in Africa, where the digital divide is significant across the continent.
In resource-poor countries Burundi and Mauritania, whose economies depend on subsistence farming and livestock and average salaries are as low as $60.50 and $17.68, respectively, the internet costs more than 1000 percent of those amounts.
Even in countries with strong economies and apparently ‘affordable’ internet, the poorest and most vulnerable people in society fall into the digital divide. In the US, where the internet costs 1.17 percent of the average salary, educators and experts are calling for greater equity in broadband access, arguing for connectivity to be treated as ‘a basic need within education.’
Global connectivity is now more critical than ever, and it is clear that better infrastructure and support is necessary to provide more equitable access to digital resources.
Lorraine Kipling is a freelance writer and editor from Manchester, UK. She writes for NeoMam Studios. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Africa’s Informal Sector Marred by Small Manufacturing Base and Low Technology Adoption, Brookings Experts Say
WASHINGTON, October 18, 2019 – Emerging digital technologies are making strides in the global economy, but some experts say that the impact in Africa may take on different forms.
Digital technology can increase productivity in Africa’s informal sector, said World Bank Executive Director Jean-Claude Tchatchouang at a Brookings Institute event Thursday. The informal sector is comprised of jobs in the gig economy, such as rideshares and online platforms.
What’s most important, he said, is that economic growth becomes more inclusive and has a lasting impact on alleviating poverty. Infrastructure, digital payments, online platforms and entrepreneurship are all key areas of improvement for African countries.
Africa’s exceptionally large informal sector is marred by its small manufacturing base and low technology adoption, said Mark Dutz, lead economist at World Bank Africa Region. However, this means lower-skilled workers could less likely be affected by worker-replacing digital technologies.
Moreover, he added, low levels of human capital and high levels of informality provide greater scope for worker-enhancing digital technologies, allowing workers to learn new skills on the job.
Regarding government’s role in this issue, Dutz said, the African Union’s commitment to promote digital technologies provides a window of opportunity to facilitate all types of technological adoption.
Maintaining focus in the non-technological sector is also vital. Africa’s strongest sectors in the manufacturing economy, said World Bank Senior Economic Adviser Mary Hallward-Driemeier, are the ones with the least automation. This is especially relevant towards agriculture.
Part of the lack of automation stems from China’s dominant role in the artificial intelligence industry, she said. Because China is producing so many robots, it’s actively trying to make sure that AI production doesn’t move elsewhere.
The bottom line is that economists and other experts need to focus outside of the traditional narratives of the tech and gig economies, said Tricia Williams, thematic research lead at the MasterCard Foundation. Many African countries are living on an analog system and simultaneously investing resources in digital technologies.
Increasing job opportunities and labor income remains the most sustainable way out of poverty, said Hallward-Driemeier.
Broadband News from Around the World: 4G in Lusaka, Australia’s National Broadband Network and Scotland Fiber Link
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 – A recent wrap-up of global broadband news included the following items:
Zamtel, a Zambian Telecommunications company, has announced plans to increase mobile broadband Internet service and availability in the nation, according to the Lusaka Times. Zamtel Chief Eexecutive Officer Dr. Mupanga Mwanakatwe spoke of the company’s plans to increase internet availability in both rural and urban areas. Zamtels aims to see increased access to 2G and 3G connections. These second- and third-generation broadband connections are slower than the 4G customarily available in the developed world. Zamtel will also invest $4 million into the broadband infrastructure of Livingstone, in preparation for the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s general assembly to be held in late May. The Livingstone plan will allow for 4G connectivity at the UN event.
Australia’s National Broadband Network
Malcolm Turnbull, communications spokesman for of the opposition political party in Australia, warned that at its current pace of implementation, the government’s National Broadband Network could take 20 years to complete. Turnbull noted that when the government announced their National Broadband Plan, they promised to connect over 12 million homes by 2020. In 2012, the first year of the plan the government only connected 70,000 homes. Turnbull said of his own party’s upcoming broadband plan” will be released sooner rather than later, and there will be plenty of time – many months – before the election for people to consider it and debate it.”
Following damage to a subsea fiber cable, residents of Shetland, Scotland, were disconnected from broadband internet or cellular service for at least 48 hours. The local company Shetland Telecom noted that the damage to the cable and resulting unavailability is indicative of why more money must be invested into broadband infrastructure. According to the Shetland News, “Shetland Telecom manager Marvin Smith said that the situation demonstrated the value of the £1 million investment in a Shetland fibre optic cable that provides the first leg of the resilient link protecting local users.” Shetland Telecom is hoping to extend its local cable to Vidlin this year. It currently runs from Sandwick in the south to Sella Ness in the north of the isles.
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