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UN sets global broadband target

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A United Nations commission has agreed on a set of four ‘ambitious but achievable’ new targets for broadband, with the developing world – including South Africa – being given ambitious goals.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development has agreed on a set of four ‚ambitious but achievable’ new targets that countries around the world should strive to meet in order to ensure their populations fully participate in tomorrow’s emerging knowledge societies.

The new targets cover broadband policy, affordability and uptake:

‚These targets are ambitious but achievable, given the political will and commitment on the part of governments, working in partnership with the private sector,‚ said Dr Hamadoun Tour√©, ITU Secretary-General, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission alongside UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. The Commission is co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Hel√∫, Chairman and CEO of Telmex and Am√©rica Mov√≠l.

ITU will undertake responsibility for measuring each country’s progress towards the targets, producing an annual broadband report with rankings of nations worldwide in terms of broadband policy, affordability and uptake.

The Broadband Challenge endorsed by the Commission recognizes communication as ‚a human need and a right’, and calls on governments and private industry to work together to develop the innovative policy frameworks, business models and financing arrangements needed to facilitate growth in access to broadband worldwide.

It urges governments to avoid limiting market entry and taxing ICT services unnecessarily to enable broadband markets to realize their full growth potential, and encourages governments to promote coordinated international standards for interoperability and to address the availability of adequate radio frequency spectrum. ‚We note the importance of the guiding principles of fair competition for promoting broadband access to all,‚ it reads. ‚It is essential to review legislative and regulatory frameworks, many of which are inherited from the last century, to ensure the free and unhindered flow of information in the new virtual, hyper-connected world.‚

The Challenge stresses the need to stimulate content production in local languages and enhance local capacity to benefit from, and contribute to, the digital revolution.

The fourth meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development was held just prior to the Broadband Leadership Summit, which welcomed over 250 government and industry leaders from around the world to exchange views on the challenges and opportunities of ‚a future built on broadband’.

To download a copy of The Broadband Challenge, visit www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/Broadband_Challenge.pdf

Speakers at the opening sessions of the Broadband Leadership Summit included:

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