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CNB List of Contributions: none

Created On Friday, 23 October 2015 10:37

Contribution

  • Title
    none
  • First Name
    Facebook
  • Last Name
    Facebook
  • Stakeholder Group
    Private Sector

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  • Do you know of existing policy measures, and private sector or civil society initiatives addressing connectivity? If yes, was the policy a government policy, industry policy (either collective best practice or corporate policy), technical policy, or did i
    Free Basics provides access to various global services, as well as locally-targeted content including local news, health, employment, educational, and other informational sites. There are currently over 250 services available globally, and we expect this number to continue to grow as we have made it easy for any developer to create services that integrate with the open and non-exclusive Free Basics platform. Our goal is to work with as many mobile operators and developers as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities around the world.

    In order for the Free Basics program to be sustainable, it is important that newly connected people brought online through the program ultimately become paying subscribers for accesses to the broader Internet. So far, it has been working. Free Basics brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50% faster after launching free basic services, and more than half of the people who come online through Free Basics are paying for data and accessing the broader Internet within the first 30 days. A good example of how the program is moving towards its goal is already happening in India, where more than 90% of data usage for new Internet users brought online by Free Basics is used to access services outside of the free package.

    Connectivity Lab
    In addition to launching Free Basics, the Internet.org connectivity initiative also includes the Connectivity Lab. This program explores the use of technologies — for example, satellites, unmanned aerial systems, and lasers — to help extend affordable Internet access to areas that are not yet covered by existing solutions.

    Connectivity Declaration: Working Together to Accelerate Connectivity
    Ensuring universal access to the Internet is critical to guaranteeing fundamental rights and achieving our collective global goals. Realizing that the commitment of connecting the next billion will require many diverse methods, significant investments and innovative policies, Facebook knows that one company alone is not enough. To enlist support from diverse stakeholders around the world for this mission, Facebook and the ONE Campaign joined with Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, Mo Ibrahim, Jimmy Wales, and many civil society organizations and businesses to create a global movement that puts connectivity at the heart of the global development agenda. We call this the Connectivity Declaration, available in full at http://www.one.org/connecttheworld.

    The Connectivity Declaration expresses the world’s commitment to the belief that “the Internet belongs to everyone; it should be accessible by everyone.” The Declaration underlines a key target within the newly agreed Global Goals, through which world leaders promised to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.” Those who have pledged their commitment share the belief that we must hold them and ourselves to this commitment.

    We recognize that providing that access will require more investments in basic infrastructure such as access to electricity, as well as expanding literacy and numeracy. All these necessary investments and more must be made to achieve our global goals – but a key accelerator is increased Internet access. We believe that by acting together to make Internet access a priority, billions of people can gain the tools, knowledge and opportunities to change their lives, and we can enable the achievement of the global goals for sustainable development.

    Polices Enabling Connectivity

    Governments play a crucial role—where governments lay the foundation, the private sector can build. There are a number of policies that governments can explore and adopt to promote investment and innovation in support of connectivity.

    Reduce the Cost of Internet Access
    As mentioned previously, the cost of Internet access remains one of the biggest inhibitors to universal connectivity. On this issue, governments have significant leverage in helping businesses lower prices. For instance, governments can support innovative business arrangements, such as Free Basics, that provide access to affordable basic services, including but not limited to messaging, search engines, social networks, weather, education, and financial services. This will encourage the expansion of access for first-time Internet users.

    Promote a Free and Open Internet
    Maintaining a free and open Internet is essential for the industry’s innovation and growth. Governments should prohibit ISPs from blocking, throttling or building fast lanes to privilege certain products over others. Access providers should not impose barriers between people and the content and services they want to access. When introducing new legislation relevant to the Internet industry, governments must also be cautious to avoid inhibiting innovation. Innovative business arrangements that promote connectivity and economic development, such as zero-rating of content, give more people more access to more content and are critical for expanding access. By increasing local demand for Internet content, such arrangements lead to more competitive markets with more diverse content.

    Expand Connectivity Infrastructure
    Gaps in connectivity infrastructure is not only a major barrier but also an opportunity for public-private cooperation. Governments can facilitate quicker and cheaper deployment of Internet infrastructure by streamlining the local licensing process and reducing other legal barriers to entry. Another effective policy is to promote the sharing of passive infrastructure by adopting a “dig once, build once” philosophy that encourages providers to determine if others wish to share in the initial costs of deploying connectivity infrastructure and then share its use. Tax incentives can also accelerate Internet deployment and adoption processes, such as accelerated depreciation for connectivity infrastructure investments, R&D tax credits to promote infrastructure innovation, and a tax credit to companies that provides mobile broadband to employees.

    Expand Access to Spectrum
    Countries have utilized a variety of policies and incentives to increase spectrum utilization. An example would be to establish spectrum policy that maximizes the utilization of this scarce and valuable resource. Central to achieving this goal is the adoption of a balanced spectrum policy that fosters both licensed and unlicensed allocations. Licensed spectrum can be important to build out coverage of large and dense areas. Unlicensed spectrum is critical to fostering experimentation and innovation and improving coverage, especially in rural and underserved areas.

    The Way Forward

    Facebook appreciates the opportunity to share our work and experience in connecting the next billion, as well as our views on policies that governments can explore to best incentive private sector investment and innovation. We believe that all stakeholders—governments, civil society, communities, and individuals—must work together to bridge the digital divide and use the power of the Internet to reach the world’s global development goals.