UN official urges regulators to help increase broadband penetration worldwide

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 01:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The head of the United Nations telecommunications agency urged regulators to build on massive recent growth in mobile cellular penetration worldwide and try to repeat that success with Internet and broadband.

Speaking at the opening of the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) in Dakar, Senegal, Hamadoun Touré called on participants from around the world to embrace regulation that will help the world “do for the Internet and broadband what we have now so successfully achieved with mobile.”

Touré, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), said that two things needed to change in order to repeat the ‘mobile miracle’ with broadband deployment.

 “Firstly, governments need to raise broadband to the top of the development agenda. Secondly, we need to ensure that Internet access — and especially broadband access — becomes very much more affordable.

 “This is where the GSR can play an important role,” he added. “Affordability is dramatically improved when competitive forces are brought to bear, and when there are clear incentives to increase capacity.”

This year’s Symposium features a special focus on broadband, looking at the challenges faced by regulators in stimulating nationwide broadband deployment.

Touré noted that this was the first time the GSR was held in Africa and praised the continent’s progress in information and communications technology (ICT) development. Mobile cellular penetration is now 44 per cent across the continent as a whole, up from just 15 per cent four years ago.

Also addressing the meeting, which continues until Friday, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade stressed that everyone should share in the so-called ‘digital dividend.’

 “The aim of regulators can be stated quite simply: A computer for all, digital for all.”

One of the main results of the GSR is a set of guidelines, based on contributions from participants, which are designed to assist regulators in promoting open access to ICT worldwide