“Access to broadband is not just having access to a fast internet connection,” International Telecommunications Union chief Hamadoun Toure told the audience at the Social Good Summit last week. “It is about having access to life changing and life saving services, no matter what circumstances you are in.”
Toure was previewing the recently released report from the Broadband Commission, State of Broadband in 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All. The report unveils interesting and potentially transformative trends in how people around the world access the Internet. For example, it finds that across the world today, nearly twice as many people access broadband via mobile devices than fixed connection. Also this:
The report notes a strong linguistic shift now taking place online. If current growth rates continue, it says, the number of Internet users accessing the Internet predominantly in Chinese will overtake English language users by 2015.
It goes on to outline a variety of ways in which broadband is improving the lives of people around the world, in m-health, distance education and m-learning, via m-payment systems, and in improving the lives of women, promoting innovation and fostering the acquisition of new skills. It also reinforces a clear need for policy leadership to facilitate the deployment of broadband around the world. Today, some 119 countries now have a national broadband plan or policy in place.
The State of Broadband 2012 report draws on ITU’s extensive statistical evidence base and is the result of close collaboration between Broadband Commissioners. Based on interviews, contributions and supporting material from more than 20 experts and their organizations, it highlights the importance of public private partnerships in accelerating change, presents twelve recommendations from the Commission to speed up the roll-out and deployment of broadband to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and includes 24 ‘featured insights’ from the Commission, which comprises 60 leaders from industry, government, international organizations and NGOs.
Broadband is certainly expanding, but the big question is how to harnesses these trends to support the economic and social development of places that have historically been left behind. “Our ultimate goal is the knowledge society,” said Toure, “where everyone does not just have access to information, but can create information and share it.”
The report is chock full of really interesting graphs and data. This video offers a great overview of the findings. For one, it shows that Internet penetration in the least developed countries is only 6%, but that is double what it was just two years ago.
And just today, Facebook announced that it hit 1 billion users. Check out which countries in the world are the most socially networked.
Check out the full report for other interesting charts, facts and analyses.