I was privileged to be  a speaker in the 2014 IGF in Istanbul, Turkey in a panel on Policies for promoting broadband access in developing countries.

We realize that while technological solutions are advancing rapidly, policy and regulations remain a significant barrier to affordable internet especially in the developing world.

Three in five of the world’s people are not connected to the Internet. In developing countries only 31 percent of people are online; and in the world’s 49 least developed countries, less than 10% have Internet access.

Some policies for reducing cost of broadband and increasing access in Africa have been suggested over the years. I will discuss some of them

Kenya launched it’s broadband strategy in 2013. The bold document projected to roll Internet in all schools and hospitals by year 2017, and increase the speeds for broadband in urban areas by 2017 to 2GBPS and 500MBPS in rural areas. Some of the areas I identified that need more consideration in policy development are:

  1. Proper use and monitoring of Universal Service Funds (USF). We need better management of USF and community involvement in how the USF are used. The USF should not only be used to provide infrastructure investments in under-served regions, but also promote digital literacy.Digital literacy will ensure the community knows the value of the Internet and how it can improve their lives. Political goodwill. In Kenya, USF was formed under an act of parliament in 2009, but the USF management board was inaugurated in July 2014. Operators are required to pay upto 0.5 per cent of their annual turnover to the USF kitty. The snail pace in implementing USF ensures the dream for broadband access to the masses is delayed, and even deferred. Transparent and consultative processes, incorporating stakeholder inputs and priorities is a must for the success of the USF. Currently service providers are not happy they were not included in the management of the funds. Internet end user representatives like consumer federation of Kenya, and Internet Society should also be part of the team that advises on how the USF should be used.
  2. Reduced luxury tax on infrastructure equipment, end user devices, and services especially in undeserved regions. Those living below the UN poverty index of $2/day have other priorities like food, and health. Cost of broadband is as high as 90% of income on population with low per capita income. According to a report by Alliance for Affordable Internet ( A4AI), the key to affordability is the policy and regulatory environment that shapes the different actors in the market. Reforms to make markets more open, competitive and socially efficient are often the best and quickest way to drive prices down and increase broadband use.
  3. License Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) who ride on existing infrastructure from competitors. This reduces investment capital outlay by new players while increasing broadband coverage. In 2014, Kenya  licensed two MVNOs.
  4. Efficient spectrum management. Open, transparent, and fair allocation and licensing mechanism.
  5. Foster Innovation, like the use of TV white space, and other innovations. License Plain FREE community internet service in least privileged areas. An example is setting up free MESH networks and connecting the communities to local community servers with open access content like Wikipedia, open streetmaps, OwnCloud storage, news, local agricultural content, free e-books, municipal portals, chartrooms, and a directory for all these content.
  6. Sharing of resources by service providers. Masts, fiber cable, e.t.c. The end user will foot the bill if every provider has to compete laying infrastructure that has less than 10% utilization overall. Allow service providers to use infrastructure setup through taxpayers money. This is more so through the legacy government owned telecommunication  monopolies that litter the landscape across Africa. An example is the National Fiber Optic Cable (NOFBI) laid across Kenya by the government with a target of 80% reach. It is not fully utilized. Private sector can make use of these resources instead of laying parallel infrastructure. In the broadband strategy, the government has pledged to increase the coverage of NOFBI by an additional 30,000KMs
  7. Streamlined processes for infrastructure deployment. Efficient and effective access to public rights of way Coordinated with other infrastructure projects (fiber or duct laid during road works)
  8. Establish IXPs. local and/or regional internet exchange point (IXP), and have data caching. AXIS project in Africa though partnership of ISOC and AU has already setup about 4 IXPs and held training across the continent.
  9. Energy. There cannot be access without affordable sustainable electricity. Electricity is very expensive per kilowatt in developing countries. This cost is usually passed down to users. Developing countries should seriously look for permanent ways of solving their perennial energy problems. Computer laboratories can be powered through solar and wind energy.
  10. Content. Develop policies that support relevant local content that users will feel the need to consume. Most societies have solved the content problem to a greater extend.
  11. Data collection of key indicators to measure effectiveness of the strategies implemented.
  12. Move from talking to acting. Concrete policies and better regulation and monitoring. All these are possible through collaboration and improved relationships between the business, governments and local communities.

At present, the global broadband industry has entered into a high-speed development stage. The growth of bandwidth requirements and optical fiber access lead to a global fiber optic network construction wave. To provide ubiquitous broadband access for users, countries around the world makes efforts to wireless broadband seamless access through a variety of means, for example, developing the LTE mobile communications technology and market. Broadband development has also led to the emerging of mobile Internet, cloud computing, Internet of things, intelligent terminal that broadband has become an important part of the strategic emerging industries and competition cores.Broadband is helpful to promote the economic growth, and the effect is more significant for developing countries. In improving productivity, broadband will help boosting a rise of 5% in manufacturing industry, 10% increase in service industry and 20% for the information industry.

However, many developing countries still encounter lots of issues, such as weak infrastructure construction, imbalanced urban and rural development, less developed application service and original technology, pressure on saving cost. It is an urgent task to strengthen infrastructure construction and capacity building, more importantly from the design policy.

The workshop will invite multistakeholder from different angles to discuss:
(1) how developing countries carry out effective broadband network construction,
(2) what’s the roles of different stakeholders in this process,
(3) how to strengthen the capacity building,
(4) how to design better policy to promoting broadband access and service,
(5) the best practice and challenges etc.

Moderators

avatar for Xinmin GAO

Xinmin GAO

Vice President, Internet Society of China
Mr. Xinmin Gao is Vice President of the Internet Society of China, Member of the Advisory Committee for the State Informatization, P. R. China. He graduated with a Master degree from the Department of Electrical Machinery of the Polytechnic Institute of Kalinin, Leningrad in the former Soviet Union.  He has extensive working experience in research organizations in the former Ministry of Electronics Industry, and later assumed the position of Director of the State Information Center. …
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Speakers

avatar for Khaled Fourati

Khaled Fourati

Project Manager, World Wide Web Foundation
Khaled is the Web Index Project Manager at the World Wide Web Foundation. He has over ten years°Ø experience managing multi-country projects in information and communication technologies (ICTs) with a focus on Internet policies and digital networks. Before joining the Web Foundation, Khaled was with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) where he collaborated with academia, governments, the private sector and civil society organisations in Africa and Asia to leverage a…
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avatar for Jia He

Jia He

Analyst, China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR)
Ms. Jia He is serving as an analyst for China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR), a non-profit research institute. She focuses on the research of ICT policy analysis, specially Internet Governance. As a policy analysis expert, she is actively involving into the issues of ICANN globalization from the perspective of academy and actively promoting Internet development in Chinese Internet communities through problem-oriented methods. Since 2012, she participates in the conferences of…
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avatar for Mwendwa Kivuva

Mwendwa Kivuva

Mr. Mwendwa Kivuva has wide experience in internet policy development at the local and international level with a passion for the Internet governance. He is the Secretary General of Internet Society (ISOC) Kenya Chapter and secretary of ISACA Kenya communications committee. He is also the Kenyan ICANN’s At-large Structure representative to African At-large Organization (AFRALO) where individual internet users’ voice is heard within ICANN.   He has participated actively on all East…
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avatar for Ana Neves

Ana Neves

Director, Department of the Information Society, FCT, Ministry of Education and Science, Portugal
Ms. Ana Neves serves as Director of the Department of Information Society at the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (FCT) in Portugal since 1st of March 2012, following the merging of the “Knowledge Society Agency–UMIC”, where she served as Head of International Affairs from 1st September 2008 until 29th February 2012. The FCT is currently the public entity in Portugal with the mission of coordinating the Information Society Policy in…
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avatar for Claudia Selli

Claudia Selli

Claudia Selli is the European Affairs Director of AT&T International External & Regulatory Affairs since September 2010. Her main task is to advocate AT&T positions in Brussels towards the European institutions as well as in other European Member States and particularly in Germany.      Prior to joining AT&T, Claudia worked at the European Commission, DG Information Society where she took part in the negotiations with the European Parliament on several…
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avatar for Lingxi Wu

Lingxi Wu

Mr. Lingxi Wu is the vice Deputy Director of the product Division of the Innovative Business Department of China Telecom.   Mr. Wu was graduated from the University of Electronic Science and Technology in 1995, and he received the Master degree of mobile communications engineering from Nanjing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications in 2008.   Mr. Wu was served in China Post Xiamen branch, China Telecom Xiamen branch, and the Products Planning Office of Marketing in China Telecom…
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Remote Moderators

Tuesday September 2, 2014 11:00am – 12:30pm
Workshop Room 05 (Rumeli -1 Floor / Room 3)