In 2017, the world will mark a significant milestone: 50% global internet penetration, the 2017 Affordability Report is an in-depth annual research initiative produced by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) whose goal is to provide a global coalition working to make broadband affordable for all.
March 13, 2017
Though internet access has become a daily expectation for many, this will mark the first time that the scales have tipped toward more of the world being connected than not.
But for the half of the world that remains offline - mostly women in developing countries - this means being left even further behind as the digital revolution steams ahead.
Last year, the global community recognised the importance of digital equality for socio-economic growth and opportunity and set a target as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals: affordable, universal internet access by 2020.
The bad news is that without urgent policy action, we’ll miss this target by over 20 years.
High connectivity costs remain one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the universal access pledge.
Though broadband prices are coming down, they simply aren’t falling fast enough, leaving low income earners and other marginalised populations unable to afford even a basic connection.
Furthermore, our research shows that the pace of policy change has been far too slow.
The good news is that we know what we need to do to turn things around and make the internet affordable for all.
Smart policies that encourage more competition and innovation in key areas, such as spectrum, infrastructure, and last-mile connectivity, can help to pave the way toward affordability.
These policies should be grounded in a new, more ambitious affordability target of “1 for 2” - 1GB of data for no more than 2% of income - that enables more income groups to afford to connect.
Just 19 of the 58 countries assessed for this year’s report have met this “1 for 2” target.
For this reason, it is critical that countries also implement public access solutions to ensure that those at the base of the pyramid don’t also remain relegated to the back of the connectivity queue.
More specifically, we recommend that countries take action to do the following:
- Employ Public Access Solutions to Close the Digital Divide
- Foster Market Competition Through Smart Policy
- Implement Innovative Uses of Spectrum through Transparent Policy
- Take Urgent Action to Promote Infrastructure and Resource Sharing
- Make Effective Use of Universal Service and Access Funds
- Ensure Effective Broadband Planning Turns Into Effective Implementation