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ITU/UNESCO: Broadband Commission releases its outcome report

arton2994On the eve of the MDG Summit, theBroadband Commission for Digital Developmentreleased its outcome reportA 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband. The report calls on global leaders to ensure that more than half of all of the world’s people have access to broadband networks by 2015, and to make access to high-speed networks a basic civil right. It also includes a High-Level Declaration calling for “Broadband Inclusion for All.”

The report was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a side event held in conjunction with the Summit. ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour, speaking at the 19 September launch, said, “Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology. It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness. It is also the most powerful tool we have at our disposal in our race to meet the Millennium Development Goals, which are now just five years away.”

Mr. Ban noted the power of technology to inject new impetus into the development paradigm. “Information and communication technologies are playing an increasingly important role as drivers of social and economic development, but it will take partnerships such as the Broadband Commission to ensure that those technologies live up to their extraordinary potential,” he stressed. “The Commission’s report is an important contribution to our efforts to ensure that the benefits of information and communication technology can further the United Nations goals of peace, security or development for all.”

The report includes a detailed framework for broadband deployment and ten action points aimed at mobilizing a wide range of stakeholders and convincing government leaders to prioritize the roll-out of broadband networks to their citizens.

According to ITU, recent research suggests a strong link between broadband penetration and economic growth. “In the 21st century, affordable, ubiquitous broadband networks will be as critical to social and economic prosperity as networks like transport, water and power. Broadband will serve as tomorrow’s fountain of innovation. It represents the ripening of the digital revolution, the fruits of which have yet to be invented or even imagined.”

The report stresses the need for leaders to focus on building a “virtuous broadband development dynamic,” noting that broadband has the power to “cut a swathe through the silos associated with health, education, energy, transport, the environment and other key sectors.”

It also stresses the importance of promoting cultural diversity and multilingualism in the online world. The report urges governments not to limit market entry nor tax broadband and related services too heavily, and to ensure ample availability of spectrum to support mobile broadband growth. ITU forecasts a total of 900 million broadband subscribers by 2010 – and predicts that mobile broadband will be the access technology of choice for millions in the developing world, where fixed link infrastructure is sparse and expensive to deploy.

“The new realities and opportunities for digital development must be firmly fixed in the minds of world leaders as a leadership imperative,” says the report, urging leaders to replicate the “mobile miracle” of the first decade of the 21st century in a “broadband boom” that will create shared high-speed resources accessible and beneficial to all.

The establishment of the Broadband Commission comes five years after the World Summit on the Information Society, and ten years after the launch of the MDGs. With the support of the UN Secretary-General, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development was launched on 10 May 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is chaired jointly by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Hlu, Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Grupo Carso, with ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Tour and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as vice chairs. They are joined by top-level figures from government, industry and international agencies, as well as those concerned with the content that will be delivered through broadband networks, from education to entertainment.

The outcome report of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development is availableonline.

An Executive Summary of a contribution document prepared for the meeting detailing strategies for broadband roll-out can be downloadedhere.

A full list of Commissioners can be found on the Broadband Commissionwebsite.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.

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