ITU/UNESCO release report on broadband

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a joint initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has released its second report, entitled “Broadband: A Platform for Progress”. The report aims to provide detailed analysis of what broadband is, how it can be defined, and why broadband is so valuable for the development of economies and societies and how various types of infrastructure can produce these networks. The report also covers significant policy issues and provides an overview of the current status of broadband deployments on a global basis.

According to the report, 30% of the world’s population currently use the Internet.  In developed countries over half of the population have access to mobile broadband and around a quarter have a fixed connection. In developing countries the numbers are significantly lower: 5.4% of citizens have access to mobile broadband and 4.4% of citizens have access to fixed broadband (estimates, end of 2010).

The document also notes that investment in broadband is a driver of gross domestic product (GDP) and gives China as an example, where it is estimated that every 10% increase in broadband penetration contributes an additional 2.5% to GDP growth.  Besides productivity, broadband contributes to the creation of employment – an analysis made by the European Commission estimates that broadband could lead to 2 million more jobs by 2015.

The report also looks at the social impact of broadband, especially in the creation of so-called “knowledge societies”, based on the principles of freedom of expression, universal access to information and knowledge, respect for linguistic and cultural diversity; and education for all.