Removing Barriers to Connectivity: Connecting the Unconnected

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Removing Barriers to Connectivity: Connecting the Unconnected

Workshop #48: ETNO/ISOC

Background paper

In the spirit of Paragraph 50 of the Tunis Agenda, this panel aims to highlight best practices that will help transform the digital divide into the digital opportunity, and will look at what can be done to promote the efficient deployment of broadband infrastructure at the local level, as well as how best to address access and demand issues.

An appropriate enabling environment must be put in place to ensure that broadband connections are developed, maintained and improved to sustain the rise in Internet traffic, help encourage connectivity and, crucially, lift any remaining barriers to connectivity.

An indicative list of best practice considerations and observations has been identified below, to serve as a catalyst for discussion at the IGF and as a baseline reference to build upon. This list of best practices addresses elements of the ICT value chain and the intention of the Workshop is to discuss any bottlenecks in any one part of the chain, with a particular focus on issues affecting emerging markets. The ICT value chain covers infrastructure/connectivity, devices, operating systems, content, services and applications, and user-centric concerns.

Best Practices

Infrastructure

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Policies targeting broadband infrastructure roll-out should not crowd out private

investments. The use of public funding, including public-private partnerships, may be useful in those cases where the business case for wholly private investment plans are not feasible to bring any, or sufficient, broadband coverage and all the related social and economic benefits, to high cost or low income areas without public sector financing to “prime the pump”.

Broadband development policies should not determine technology choices but rather should remain technology neutral and support the market’s choice of the most appropriate and efficient technologies.

Policy makers should strive to establish a stable and predictable regulatory/policy

environment, to enable private sector providers to make long-term business and investment plans.

Access

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Broadband policies to support interconnectivity, to guard against anti-competitive practices and to allow players the freedom to negotiate on a commercial basis should be encouraged.

Mobile usage is on the rise. Smartphones are greatly facilitating access to the Internet and are replacing computers as the most popular access entry point in many economies. Public policies should seek to facilitate the widespread penetration of mobile devices and the applications that run on them, through protection of intellectual property rights, use of encryption, favorable duty rates, etc.

The use of open standards and operating systems should be encouraged to the extent possible, to enable a wide range of access and innovation opportunities for end-users. For

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instance, as an ‘anchor tenant’ the government could embed open standards as a positive attribute in their procurement of equipment.

The ability of different ICT systems and services to work together should be a key objective.

Achievement of this interoperable capability will minimize vendor lock-in and control and facilitate the broadest possible access for end users.

Take-up

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Policy makers should strive to establish a policy, legal and regulatory environment, to engender trust and facilitate usage, including, access to information, data protection,

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cybersecurity and safeguards against cybercrime.

Compelling content will help drive user take up and demand for broadband infrastructure of increasingly higher capacities. Efforts to simplify rights-clearance and licensing systems should be encouraged in order to facilitate the flow of content and to encourage new, innovative legal offers.

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Local culture, language and heritage should be nurtured, and local content initiatives should be supported by policy makers as a means to drive user demand and take-up in the most remote areas of the world.

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Appropriate demand stimulation initiatives such as computer literacy classes in schools, should be established at the national and local levels, and e-government projects should be encouraged as a means to help drive user awareness and take-up.

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Innovation is the key to the emergence of new services and applications, which will help drive take up. Local / national initiatives to develop and showcase new talent in this field should be encouraged.

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The continued transition to a new, digital means of content delivery should be based on

competition and diversity. All actors have a role to play in moving towards a new landscape with a simplified way of working that can best respond to diversified consumer demand based on evolving technologies.

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