Welcome to the United Nations | Department of Economic and Social Affairs





OCTOBER 23, 2013.

1:30 BALI




This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.


>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you, everyone.

Welcome to our session here on Universality of Access. We're trying to take a look at how we have come in terms of ensuring that everyone on the planet is connected. We have quite an interesting selection of panelists here to give us their experience in this area.

I'll leave them to introduce themselves more clearly. We have one from Indonesia, we have Jennifer here, from Google, then we have Bernadette Lewis from the Caribbean Union.

We have a diverse area. Note that of particular interest we have many people from the areas which are least connected which are the small islands, least developed countries. I think this is where our biggest challenge is because Internet access is still generally quite expensive for the bottom, as it were.

The current definition coming out of the ITU and the commission is that Internet access should cost about or ideally less than 5% of your annual income. When I look at places like Africa, it is about 40%, 50% of your annual income.

In terms of affordability, we have a huge issue there. That's for a general broadband connection obviously. That's another part of the issue. People in rural areas having difficulty being connected.

I spent the summer visiting parts of the islands in the U.K., and you can get a mobile signal coverage and the same problem is much more magnified in the developing countries. Urban areas are getting better coverage, but still quite expensive and quite a lot slower than they would be in the developed world. Then, in the rural areas we have basic middle problem was national backbones not being pervasive and then we have the connectivity problem especially remote areas where the topography make it is even harder to connect.

Then, we have exclusion on a geographic basis but, maybe cultural groups or gender‑based divergence as in access levels. There is a number of different factors here.

I invite the panel to give us their experiences in these different areas and perhaps we should just run through the panel from right to left as it were. We'll start with you, Bernadette. Give them a bit more of a background for your personal role.

>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Thank you. Good afternoon. I'm the Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, it is an intergovernmental organization with 20 member states. We do have private sector organizations as well, and Civil Society as members.

We have sort of created a multistakeholder formation for the development of the sector in the region. The thing I should say ‑‑ start by saying ‑‑ the Caribbean is diverse, very diverse.

You have countries with Internet usage per population in access of 80% and others on the other spectrum of the scale with less than 10%. So it is tremendously diverse.

There are different stages of development. I can't speak to averages, because if doesn't really make sense. I will try to give some examples of what's being done in different countries for you to get an idea of the whole issue of access, Internet access, so on.

There are many programs within the region, I could give you a very specific example, there is plans to open a number of computer access centers in Trinidad, Tobago, that's good. Other countries are doing similar things as well.

Universal service funds are being earmarked for broadband connectivity. Many countries in the region also in the process of developing broadband strategies.

I want to just point to one concern of mine, it is that more attention needs to be given to people with disabilities, to seniors, to people who are institutionalized, they're a part of this universality that we're going after and I think too often they're overlooked, they're invisible in many respects.

Those are my opening points.

>> JENNIFER HERRON: Thank you. I'm Jennifer heron, and I work on the access team at Google.

I have said this before, some of you may have heard me say this, you know, universal access is a very large problem. It is not one for which we believe there is any one solution technologically and also when you think of policies, and that any one player can solve.

So, we work on a variety of things to try to address this challenge.

One is on the technology side: Developing technologies that may be able to bring access to more people and also to bring down the cost structure of access. That really needs to be supported by a strong policy foundation that enables those technologies to do their work.

As part of that, we joined the Alliance For Affordable Internet which is a relatively new organization hosted by the Worldwide Web Foundation. 30 plus organizations including Civil Society, other private companies, governments, non‑profits are a part of this organization that's really looking at a set of policy best practices that enable a government to support a more affordable Internet.

As part of that, they'll publish an affordability report later this year talking about how countries are doing against that set of policy practices.

Then, the last thing we look at, really, the whole Internet ecosystem a bit of what Bernadette mentioned, trying to make the Internet useful for everyone inclusive to all people.

Thank you.

>> Thank you.

Good afternoon, everyone.

This foundation I'm from, it was established in 2005 during the tsunami. Recently we have many projects in rural areas connecting the unconnected people that are not ‑‑ that do not have Internet access to benefit their life.

We have many experience and found many facts that in this area people not only need an access ‑‑ or the ability of technology, but more than that, they need assistance to utilize the technology as a benefit to their life in daily activity. This is the most important thing I think from our perspective, from our experience during these years. This is what the government and also many ‑‑ many initiatives are not aware, they're not really caring about the situation because most of the program, like universal obligation, any other incentive are talking about the technology, we thought concerning about the culture of the people they're not caring about what the people really need sometimes they don't need the ‑‑ they only need some help to utilize this technology as a benefit for their community. This is one perspective that we want to share with you in this discussion today.

I think that is it from me. Thank you.

>> Hello, good afternoon.

I'm from private sector, Indonesia, that sometimes think they're a non‑profit. For those not familiar with Macronesia it is the body of water between Hawaii and Philippines. If you have Google maps open up right now, you won't see anything.

In my home state, one of the group of islands in Macer we have 40 plus inhabited islands, only one of which with the basic infrastructure, island power, water, sewage, satellite feed totaling about 15 migs, oversold a few times.

So, if you look at the map, you can see all the water there and just imagine little dots scattered across Macer and with our situation no other island next to the many island have island power or those basic infrastructures.

Our hobby outside our 9:00 to 5:00 job, we like to do rural deployments. We have to think really basic things from barring the link, you know, everything from scratch. We cannot assume that they have long towers on the island, we have to scope everything out from the ground building, even trees sometimes, travel 165 miles sometimes and we also look at places that are not currently feasible connecting wireless points to points.

Some of the schools are getting these small satellites systems, rural Internet connectivity systems, and those are for our region, it is the lowest we can get, it is 3.95 a month after buying all of the equipment. That's not very feasible for us. The total population is about 46, maybe 50 on a good day. They're all scattered in the 40‑plus islands so ‑‑ we have one ISP there, and they're mainly on the main island, and that's why we like to help out and shoot the last mile so that all those unconnected are at least having a single point on their island to connect up if they need.

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you very much.

Maybe we could invite any reactions to the presentations from the panel and I'll take the moderator's license and just ask a couple of questions of clarification, if I may.

I was particularly interested in the statements about the people ‑‑ some people may not even need the Internet and people's actual needs are not taken into consideration. I think this is an interesting point that's not very often drawn out. People assume that everyone needs the Internet and they have to have it.

So I would like to perhaps ask you to elaborate a bit on that and give us more details about what you found the people there to really need and what the priorities are.

An interesting general observation that comes out from the Macer situation is the basic needs for other forms of infrastructure which I think will tie into that and at the same time though, many ‑‑ in many cases you can make use of basic infrastructure deployments such as electricity or water pipelines to include the deployment of Internet access so that it can be cheaper to deploy and I would like to ask Tier to explain when he said the population as far as I understood, is it 50,000 scattered across 40 islands? Is that about right? Okay. Thank you. I think you have the microphone there.

>> I will give you some example.

During our experience in many of the areas, it is similar to the situation in the ‑‑ the people, they're not really ‑‑ they're never going out from their facilities. All the people, all the people they know, they're there. They don't really need the communication, Internet and so on. Sometimes they often need something to facilitate the problem there.

For example, we have a committee, they have a concern in logging and if you put the Internet connection there there's a problem with electricity. It would not fit with their needs. Even if you have the station, there is no electricity. There is a mission system from some cellular provider, but there is no electricity. They're only started up six hours a day. We call it a ‑‑ everybody needs to connect to the outside, they have to come to that station, and the mobile phone and then they're connected there. It is a problem.

People don't really need the equipment or technology, but they need something to support them through ‑‑ to locate where is the exact place of the logging, so there is the commonality theme in that community.

One example, a fruit, because of this logging, it will swipe up the facilities, so, they really need to know whose doing that nasty thing and we equip them with GPS and equip them with cellphones that only can send an SMS, they just copy the coordination of the TBS and send it right after they arrive in that area. That's the totality of what they need. Not the Internet necessarily.

We have to start at the top‑up speculative, the top‑down perspective, like certain programs, they always skim. For example, the telephone, the stations, then they hope that people will use it, the fact it they're not, they don't really need that equipment. They need more. It is simple.

>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: My technology brought up an important issue.

Appropriate technology, it is not the bells and whistles, but what works well with you, is able to help new overcoming some challenge.

He raised another issue that I thought ‑‑ I would speak of too.

The whole issue of awareness and education. People may not have been exposed to whatever the technology is, but that doesn't mean that they cannot necessarily use it. You have to raise awareness and he had a case people about the value of the technology and the context of what they do and they understand the relevance of the technology and able to use it effectively to overcome the challenges they have on a daily basis.

There is a need of public awareness and education about technologies, and how they could be effectively incorporated in the context of what people do, whether they are in a mining area or logging area or fishing area. The Caribbean Telecommunication Union, we have a program ‑‑ what you called the Caribbean ICTU, it seeks to educate the widest cross‑section of citizens in a particular Caribbean country on the technology and in language that they understand and in the context of what they do.

We go out to fisher folk, the farmer, we demonstrate technologies that many of them already have and show them how they could incorporate it and what they do on a daily basis to improve the quality of their lives and we have found this to be very effective.

As practitioners we take things for granted. We really take things for granted and assume that people know and understand and there's a collective need for service providers, for governments, for regulators, for the private sector to contribute to this process of education and public awareness.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you for that, Bernadette.

Any other reaction from the panel before we open to the floor?

>> I have another thing to add.

After about a decade of the universal application, we have found out that most of them have failed to achieve their proposal because of the people, they're not really caring about the equipment or the technology.

So, based on that experience, we have the example of the top‑down approach, that it will not fix that situation in the communities.

We have to have a work‑around in the approach from that perspective. Let's start from the community, from the people perspective.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you very much.

At this point we invite any comments or questions from the floor.

A gentleman over here, then the lady in the back.

>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. This is a question posed to Bernadette.

I work with the South African Human Rights Commission and I wanted ‑‑

>> MIKE JENSEN: Can you talk closer to the microphone?

>> AUDIENCE: This is for Bernadette.

I have a question in relation to the comment you made right at the start on more attention needs to be given to persons with disabilities, older persons, those I think you said in mental institutions. I was just hoping if you could elaborate, those seem to be the most vulnerable including the children in our society. In terms of access, just to flesh out exactly what that means within that spaced context.

Thank you.


A blind person, they cannot or definitely cannot see. If you give them a computer, it doesn't help them. They must be ‑‑ there must be tools and applications that enable them to use these facilities. Unfortunately we have found that the disabled in our region tend to be invisible. I'm speaking from a personal point of view.

I recently had to take charge of my parents, two seniors, very, very frail. A lot of the challenges that disabled people would have, it was in my face.

Then you start to recognize, okay, someone who’s hearing impaired, they cannot use a telephone because they're not hearing. I lived through that process. So, there are applications and bits of equipment that can be used to enhance their experience and enable them to use these technologies.

People with disabilities, yes, there are tools that would certainly assist in improving the quality of lives with People with Disabilities. I spoke to seniors, there are many, many seniors in homes and in institutions completely isolated from their families.

I can give you another example: I have an elderly relative in the U.K. The last time I visited him, I showed him how to use Skype. That's transformed his life, his experience. He's no longer isolated. I can check up on him. What's that bump on your head? He fell down, you know. It improves the quality of life because they're not isolated.

I spoke about people in institutions, sometimes you have children in hospitals, long stay, right? Out ‑‑ children out of the schooling system, the ICTs present an opportunity for them to continue their education but the structures have to be put in place, the policies have to be there.

The appropriate technology for the situation, for the environment must be put in place. I think that these groups are wanting to make special mention of them because they're often ‑‑ too often overlooked and I think that ICTs access to the ICT facilities, access to the Internet can have a tremendous impact on the quality of their lives and keeping them engaged.

One of the challenges for seniors, isolation. I have seen it. You want to be able to keep them engaged. Enable them to make a contribution in one way or another. To keep in touch. This helps, you know, in terms of just making them feel part of a community so those are my comments. I hope it answers your question.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you very much, Bernadette.

The gentlemen in the checked shirt?

>> AUDIENCE: Mark Summer.

We're a non‑profit organization that works on issues in places like Sub‑Saharan Africa and Macer with Tier and his team.

I wanted to address for a moment the point, the gentlemen from Indonesia brought up, around appropriateness of tools and how to adopt tools to needs of the individuals ultimately who were trying to serve. I think that's an important point to look at how we can adopt the tools and apply them to the needs.

I think at the same time ‑‑ I want to be contrary for a moment here ‑‑ some of these things we're doing because the tools are way too expensive, the bandwidth is too expensive ‑‑ if we have to have a satellite back up to get to a rural place we have to contort ourselves in a way to reduce that bandwidth as much as possible and that often leads to unsustainable tools because they're only used in a remote place with no proper support for them, and they'll never actually scale up.

On the other hand, I have seldom seen the cost of Internet connectivity is very low, nobody comes to use it. People come to use it, experiment with it, find the solutions they need for their own problems.

The problem is if your price something so high it is prohibitive for a vast majority to get access. You don't get the local buy‑in because you don't get that adaptation.

That leads back to the accessibility, you make huge leaps in the market, it is affordable. Everybody talks about including other groups that are not as easy being able to use the connectivity now available and how can the experiments, maybe with Skype, the bandwidth to connect those disenfranchised connections to the community.

In part, I think the affordability problem needs to be cracked and other things will fall out of this.

We need local people in their communities who know their problems best to figure out the solutions for them. That's, I think, really what we have ‑‑ we can focus on as a whole community at the IGF. How can we get those communities connected so that they can actually take charge of their destiny and apply those tools to their best uses?

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you, Mark. That's an important point.

Jennifer would like to say something.

>> JENNIFER HERRON: Thank you, Mark.

I think to add on to that, a thing we think about is also what type of Internet access to bring and so when you ‑‑ if you restrict or only bring the Internet access for one particular use case rather than bringing full Internet access, you miss that opportunity to engage the whole ecosystem for local entrepreneurs and develops to build the tools and allow the community to use them.

We really see ‑‑ oftentimes we talk about wanting to bring Internet access because of access to health information or educational materials and all of those are true. Sometimes people just want to use the Internet for entertainment or to communicate to each other.

I think ‑‑ I agree that the affordability issue is the tough one, that needs to be solved, because when you can bring that full Internet experience you don't really know that it will be used for and it is up to the local community to then come up with the solutions and ideas and everything, the content, everything that will be used.

>> I want to share a situation where we installed a satellite system, it was expensive, 395 a month. We were hesitant to install it in the different other islands. It was in the planning stage. We talked to leaders, told them the price and, you know, worked with them to try to identify the funding and such. Maybe after six months, after we put in the system ‑‑ everybody talks on the ham radio still out there. I was actually surprised that they had a meeting with ‑‑ we're naturally travelers, you know, you're crazy if you're stuck on one small island. Communication is very important for us. People can spend all day on ham radios.

They came up with a solution to connect their little group of island via that one satellite connection and they call people from outside, say people that are interested in helping with their education system and then they just simply press the ham radio and, you know, all the communication reached all the other islands that didn't have that way to communicate.

I think sometimes we underestimate how the local people will actually use the technologies. For us, it is really important to put that opportunity there and then help guide them on ways to use but never limit how you can use it.

>> I agree with Mark, that continuity is a big challenge.

In our experience we see many deployments in this initiative are mostly they're using many things or solutions that are not really needed by the community.

For example, you say sometimes the people just need a radio communication, not the Internet and in our area, we see that the community radio, the broadcasting system still needed ‑‑ rather than the Internet access. It doesn't mean that Internet is not ‑‑ is useless and they don't need the Internet. Sometimes the Internet is needed, but not like we all here are expecting the Internet to do.

For example, if you refer to the entertainment here, maybe you expect to see Youtube or something, downloading a movie, something. For a lot of people, for other communities, the entertainment is just like another thing, not like ‑‑ just very simple.

Very simple, maybe they just want to see some picture. For example, a photo of Paris or something. That's the entertainment for them. They cannot see these things in their activity.

How we can bring those appropriate technologies for them, for their needs but not expecting more than that? If you expect more, then you will need more, you will need more technology, you will need more energy or something. It will not last for them.

After the program, after the budget is out, after people are living, they're back in the Stone Age. So, that's the problem. So, we have to put them more sustainable and affordable and not from our perspective, but from the people's perspective.

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: We have two questions.

>> AUDIENCE: I work with APC. Most of you on the panel talked about universal access, affordable access, reliable equal access. Is it the same thing? Is it different things? What does it really mean?

Maybe you have talked about it already. I just want to know what it really means when you say universal access. What's it mean when you say affordable access? Do we have to prioritize? Can I have maybe reliable, affordable access that's not really reliable or what is it that we need to prioritize on this? Maybe we don't have to prioritize anything or something that I just really want to understand.

The second thing is what do we need to do for us to have this access, whether it is universal, reliable, what strategies to do we need to put in place.

Thank you.

>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: If we looked over the history, universal access has been an evolving issue. At one time when we talked about universal access, it was access to a telephone, a pay phone, a ‑‑ a telephone within X miles. It is an evolutionary process as the technology evolves.

At this stage we're talking ‑‑ well, I should speak perhaps from the Caribbean's point of view. We're looking at broadband access, personal so that at least in a ‑‑ if you don't have access to broadband from your home then there should be access through a community access point.

So, it's really ‑‑ it really is up for each jurisdiction, each region, each country to define what you're talking about when you say universal access.

As I said, the Caribbean is a very diverse region so that the expectations in the different countries are going to be different. Ultimately, you want to be heading down a progressive part of advancement. Each country, region may need to give a definition of what the expectation is when you say universal access, otherwise it is very difficult to plan and make progress towards realizing a goal if you haven't defined it.

Affordable access, that would have to do with perhaps the ‑‑ I think some industry standards in terms of what percentage of your earning, your earnings will go into communications. Those things also, you need to look at those on a case by case basis. I think I have captured two.

There was a third point.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Reliable.

>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: The quality of the experience, when you define what you're looking of what you're speaking about when you define access, if it is broadband, what those standards are. The quality of the experience must also be defined. That has to be written in your policies and regulations so that if you're not getting the quality for which ‑‑ for which you expect, then there must be some recourse through some process through your regulator, through somebody where you could complain and demand I'm not getting the level of service, the reliability or whatever service it is, whatever parameters that have been established, you need to be able to have recourse.

If your service is unreliable, then surely you must be able to go to your regulator. There must be a whole process by which you address the fact that your service is unreliable.

>> For the alliance of affordable Internet, they use that same broadband commission definition of access not costing more than 5% of monthly GNI. That's a really large goal.

Most of the U.S., Western Europe, the average cost of access is about 1 to 2% of monthly GNI. That's like maybe a daily coffee run.

In many emerging markets, the average is 30% and then in 17 countries it costs on average over 100% of monthly GNI to access the Internet. Reaching that broadband commission's goal is definitely a large challenge.

In terms of defining I think reliability and what is broadband, I think the way I think about it as it is at its simplest is you want people to be able to do what they want on the Internet when they want. Rather than define a specific speed at which they should be receiving their bandwidth it is really about being able to engage on the Internet at the level that the user wants to and that may be for some very little and for others quite a bit.

I think part of the question was also what types of things need to be done to then reach this goal of both affordable and reliable Internet. I think as part of the alliance, they have really laid out a number of policies that governments should think about, they're wide ranging. For instance, having a competitive liberalized market where there is competitive offers in terms of where people can access the Internet, that's really proven to be one of the drivers of cost. It also includes things like the cost of building out an Internet infrastructure.

For example, I was recently in Nigeria, there about 70% of every dollar spent in laying fiber infrastructure goes to rights of ways and local taxes. That's extremely high compared to most other places. That also drives the cost of Internet. There is also the cost of devices. A lot of countries impose the luxury tax on devices. Someone earlier today said similar to what other countries would impose a sin tax, alcohol, tobacco, those extra taxes are all past down to the customer.

>> I have another comment, the key of the expectation.

If we can assess what this exactly the people expect, the expectation we can deliver more affordable solutions.

In many areas we're working with everybody needs an Internet connection but not what we're using here.

For example here, everybody is connected through their laptops, at the same time they're connecting their gadgets and everybody using more than one gadget for their activity. In the area, in the rural area, the people, they just need to connect to the Internet only for two hours or three hours per day. Even not every day, just to get their information that they're needing. Not all their information, but those that access ‑‑ not like what we enjoy today. That's the ‑‑ that's the affordability in the perspective of the local people.

If we can achieve that, maybe we can give them the lowest price, maybe there is no price there. We can share it.

For example, for connection, a 24 connection can be considered very high. If we can share it, the bandwidth for example, we have 24 hour bandwidth for everybody, maybe for 10 stations. We can schedule them for in the morning and in the region A and in the afternoon, another region will connect. We can share the band width at the same price and we can define the cost to everybody. It is more cheaper and appropriate for people because we can still have ‑‑ we can still deliver the appropriate information to them but on the other hand we can cut it off the budget.

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Did you want to build on that as well?

>> Only to build on what the panel has said about what needs to be done. I think there is quite a lot of well‑recognized activities other than ensuring the competitive environment, a vibrant mix of private operators both in the infrastructure level, the telecommunication pipes if you will, Internet service providers, willing to connect with exchange points, policies to ensure that infrastructure is not duplicated such as multiple marks and roads dug up to lay cables many times, policies which ensure that all new roads built have ducts in them that can be used by the telecommunication operators to lay the cables.

For example, on the supply side, there is many areas, the national policy level that can be addressed and are fairly well documented already. A thing I thought that was interesting that came up.

I recently visited an interesting project in Kenya which made me think about innovative business models for supplying services to isolated communities. The approach that the Internet service provider there has taken is to kind of create a franchise co‑op model and focus is not so much on supplying Internet but supplying electricity and Internet as a by‑product of that, I thought that was interesting, that model there. You had the buy‑in from the community, many times with the top down projects that put in the solar panels, whatever, and they get stolen because they're not ‑‑ they're not ‑‑ there is no sense of ownership by the community. The strategy was to create a cooperative of their own, by the village, they decide where the con connectivity should go, how it should be used and that's a by‑product actually of getting them basic electrical energy which is probably more serious of a need in many cases as a starting issue. This can easily be done together these days. I think that the innovative business models for supplying services in the remote areas that haven't really been well documented or adopted widely, I think that there's a person that would like to speak in the back there.

>> AUDIENCE: Can you hear me? I'm the CTO for Microsoft in Eastern Africa.

I wanted to talk about an experience we had, or set of experiences we had in Africa. On providing, you know, building pilots to provide Internet access, affordable Internet access to different business models, et cetera.

For example, we have one in Kenya whereby work with a local ISP to ‑‑ in which we're looking into using technologies such as light spaces to provide, you know, affordable Internet access, we have different pilots running there in different parts of Africa.

I totally agree with you, that, you know, the model has always been looked at has been we provide Internet, Internet is provided and, you know, ISPs are charging for the Internet itself. We haven't necessarily looked into the different business models that can be developed, you know, differently.

The other thing we're facing, seriously N many parts of Africa, where we tried these projects, I see two major policy issues that we're facing. The first one, one is around the frequency allocation ‑‑ the regulators are always looking into ways for maximizing the revenue that they can get in short‑term out of selling their frequencies. Eventually what happens is that those costs, they're translated back to the consumer side. If the Internet provider has to pay for those frequencies, the end user has to pay for them eventually. It is interesting that the regulator does not always look into the benefits of, you know, serving the communities but they're looking into the short‑term of ‑‑ short‑term money of it. That's an example that we're facing, the policy issue. The other policy that we have seen, in some sense, when I look into it, I say, yeah, it makes sense. In this very case, it has been difficult, it is where, you know, the regulators basically are saying you should be selling the Internet at the same price for everybody.

Then in some cases you may say it makes sense, everybody pays the same, at some point in time when you're trying to reach people that cannot afford it the regulators are making policies that force the Internet service providers to sell at a certain price even if they want to sell lower. That's also an interesting experience where we have seen, you know brokers.

My question is really about how do we ‑‑ you know, how do we work with the regulators and policymakers to understand the long‑term benefits of these regulations and not necessarily the short‑term things that they can get off, for example, setting licenses or whatever, looking into the longer goal. It is interesting to really see, fascinating to see what the communities, when they get access to Internet what, they do with it. I say just ‑‑ give them the Internet, you're fascinated how innovation comes from, healthcare, education, healthcare, agriculture, people know how to use it. Just give it to them.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you very much for that. I think Bernadette, you may be well placed for working with regulators and policymakers.

>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: I mentioned before that the CTU, we're intergovernmental, we work very closely and we have regulators from within the Caribbean region who are part ‑‑ who are members of the CTU. That, as I said earlier, it creates a multistakeholder environment in which we do a lot of education about the technologies, the implications for development.

What it is going to mean as far as regulations, legislations, policy framework? What needs to be done on those fronts to make sure we get the best possible or the most out of the technologies and the whole technological evolution.

We do invest a lot in the education of stakeholders. It is an absolute must because we find in the Caribbean many of our regulatory institutions, we have set up to liberalize a sector, now that the sector is here, what are the regulators to do? Our view is that they should be seeking the best interest of the consumer so that the end user, so that these short‑term gains from the regulator's perspective must be viewed ‑‑ you look at the greater long‑term good. Those are the sort of themes and messages that we have ‑‑ that we promote in our interactions with our regulatory institutions.

I want to go back to one point. Community access points, many governments have undertaken to do them, they have had a fairly high failure rate. The trick is to ‑‑ you gave an example linking it with things that are beneficial, linking community access points with economic activity for the community that helps. So we have seen very successful community access points, for example, in the community that produces woven mats. They have been able to sell those mats globally or a specific brand of sheep ‑‑ I don't know if you call it brand, but I don't know what you call it! Sheep.

You know, promoting a sale using a technology. Unique types of garden produce. If you could link your community access points with economic ‑‑ the economic activity in the community it helps with the buy‑in.

>> In working with government I think, one thing, governments and regulators are dealing with so many different issues and so many different constituencies. One thing that Civil Society and private companies can do is help them conduct some of the research that they may not have the resources to do in‑house we're they're not staffed up for it or whether they're dealing with other issues. On TV white space where Google works with Microsoft, one example is we offer spectrum mapping for countries that are interested in learning about if the TV white space would work in their countries. The nice thing about doing this simple service for them is that we recently did it for Senegal for instance, sure, they have licensed, you know, the spectrum for the mobile operators and the spectrum for broadcasters and there is a lot of spectrum that's not being used efficiently. It is not ‑‑ it is not being used in certain geographies or not used at certain times. Being able to help the regulator, the governments with that type of research, I think it is one thing that we can do to get them to see longer term and see more opportunities than what they have traditionally done.

>> I agree with that. In our experience we see that ‑‑ well, we all forget, what we have forgot is in many areas, there is some kind of support system surrounding the community itself.

For example, maybe there's a committee ‑‑ for example, there's maybe a private company and they're willing to share the access to the community and maybe there's an NGO there, Civil Society there, they're willing to help. Even if the help is not their core activity, but they are still willing to help. Yeah. That one is ‑‑ we miss to assess before we deploy something to the area.

There's a common problem with the government policy also, because they see that in the ‑‑ for example, universal application program, they see that everybody is uniform, but it is not. Every committee is different. They have their own life support system, they have their own relation to others and we have to explore that more deeply. From those we can see potential for the accessibility.

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you.

Do you find much variation between the islands or is it a uniform kind of community environment?

>> We stick with schools.

Right now we see a great need of communications between the schools. Our sense of that is ‑‑ we want to make sure that ‑‑ right now the way they transfer, say, a report card or a time sheet, somebody has to physically take a boat to the island and drop off the paper. That's why we want to work with schools so that we give them a way of delivering that information to where it needs to go without depending on good weather or the situations like that.

So, our goal is to give them a lifeline to communicate regardless of weather and then, of course, see other ways that each of the different communities, how they interact with either their own people or people close by to their island or people from outside of the state. Our main concern is to give them a way to communicate, really just internally.

The Internet, for us, it is a bonus. That's how we get them to want the technology.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you very much.

I think we have a couple of speakers here. The gentlemen in the middle there and then the gentlemen on the left.

>> AUDIENCE: Thank you for the discussion. I'm from Kenya.

In East Africa Kenya is considered the most developed in telecommunication market, but in terms of liberalization, competition, et cetera, but in the recent ITU of the index, you will find that Kenya is still one of the most expensive in terms of offering Internet.

Just listening to the panelists and from the floor, you have given very good suggestions on how to bring down costs, you know, competition, which we have in Kenya, infrastructure, we have the submarine cable, we have fiber across the country, we have that.

You talked about things to do with frequency. I know the regulators are working on something, frequency refunding, et cetera.

In short, I find that Kenya is doing all of those things and still the cost of Internet is still high. I'm suspecting it has to do with what they call a dominant player because one of the operators actually owns 80%, 75 to 80% of the Internet market. Maybe from the panelist what avenues can you give? It looks like the regulator is almost scared on how to handle this situation.

How do we sort of level the playing field without hurting the dominant player who keeps reminding everybody that they worked very hard to get to that position?

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you.

You highlighted a tricky area there in many respects, the high cost of internet access is a reflection of the high cost of mobile access generally and then, of course, the pseudo competition that takes place, you don't have a fully competitive environment and the prices aren't changing and then you have the dominant operators who invested millions in the networks and instituting the significant market power regulations on the wholesale pricing, even the retail price something a tricky, difficult activity for under resourced regulators.

I don't know if the panel has any further observations.

>> One other thing we look at, also is new technologies that can bring Internet access. Rather than addressing the current ‑‑ the current structure, you know, in addition of doing all of the things you mentioned, promoting good policies, we look at new technologies. I already mentioned the TV white space. Some of you may have heard of one of our projects, project Lune, looking to deliver the access through high at food balloons and we invest in others that are looking at new technology, we recently gave a grant to a number of researchers at Stanford and Berkeley that are developing in a network technology designs based on design networking, looking to deploy and manage rural networks at a lower cost.

We hope that some of these new technologies will one day be available so that there are alternative ways to access Internet and not necessarily just through your mobile operator.


We in the Caribbean, we experience very much, you know, a similar situation, no real competition although the sector has been liberalized, there is no real competition.

In addition, you have ‑‑ this has not affected the cost, the cost is still prohibitive when you consider on the international connectivity side, there is little competition so that the prices remain art officially high because the international transit is high.

I agree with Jennifer 100%. The new technology is the way to go. I wanted to bring to the attention the issue that was broadband over power lines. If you have the utility power, electricity power company and you use that technology, you could add a third new player to the whole ‑‑ to the whole environment. That, I think, is tremendously powerful. It is a good third opportunity and we're seeing it ‑‑ we know that some of the countries in the Caribbean have started looking at making the utility company the next service provider to help in enhancing or strengthening that competitive environment.

The reform, you said something ‑‑ did you say they re‑‑ the regulator may be afraid?

>> Yes.

>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Yes. It calls for regulation reform and the whole different approach to regulation. The philosophy has to change.

The regulator now ‑‑ you have to see your primary stakeholder as the end user and seeking their interests and it is a whole philosophical shift that has to be done because in many cases as I said in the Caribbean, the regulators were established to liberalize the sector. What happens now? Those are questions that have to be considered.

>> I have another comment. The ‑‑ this is not the answer for the unconnected, that's for sure. You know, we see that after a decade of liberalization, the idea is to give more access and to connect, but the fact is, they're still out there. Yeah. That's a problem.

If you're talking about the open market they will expect for some revenue, some economic upscale. For people, they'll ‑‑ for example, Internet access for end user, if you use the mobile services, that's $5 a month, they're quite cheap in here. Ten years ago you had to pay ten times of that. Now it has become double. Now, for the Internet, the $5 competes for basic needs. You have to understand that. There is no economic skill. You have to have some other way to provide and access the pull.

For example, we have to rely on the government project, rely on the use of funds, you have to rely on the social responsibility fund from the private companies, so on.

You cannot bring the solutions to them and connect. We're still focused on the investment, the industry, it will never come down.

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you. There is very good observations in that area. I want to add one too.

This area of ensuring there are other technological issues, it is a key one, a big uphill battle though to convince policymakers when you have such well-resourced mobile operator who is are going to fight tooth and nail to hold on to their franchise and use every means possible, including flying in lawyers from all over the world to convince the regulator and minister of communications that their system is the answer and that they're paid a huge amount for their licenses and spectrum and that there is no way that they'll let other players into the market.

Then I think even when perhaps some chinks in that armor is broken through and people are able to supply Wi-Fi or other things, you have to make sure that the technologies interface with the existing networks. Again, they'll again to be resistant to allowing these new players access to VOIP gateways and to have their own in‑dial numbers or anything like that, an interconnection with the existing networks, it is key for the small players to actually provide a viable solution, otherwise the end users still will have to buy services from the mobile operator to maintain a voice number and the service from the new technology provider to provide the Internet. Again, it is not cost sustainable.

We have to make sure that there is a full part there for people to use a new technology. I think that there is an intervention that someone would like to make on that.

>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.

I'm a small ISP in Bali.

It is interesting with the presentation regarding the case of Caribbean and considered as a successful and the community or the people in that area, they have to improve the quality of life.

I need to learn in a little more detail, how is the ‑‑ not how is, but how the improvement, is it ‑‑ let's say for example, from the year number one, when you start the project, there is an indicator of the score of the school children from five and then the next ‑‑ after two years, is the score a seven for example? Or the monthly income of a family from 100 a month jump into 300, something like that? Why is this interesting? I see a different approach and maybe you can share how this Caribbean area, given this approach on the Internet deployment, while in the case of Indonesia, maybe more or less is the same. We have islands, 17,000 islands and maybe about 7,000 inhabited.

If you fly from Bali to ours, to the east area, even in Zumba, in Florence, you have the structure of the government, the central government and the prove and the district, the sub district. In several districts in this east area, even there is no Internet yet, even the government, there is no Internet. Sorry to say, but I would like to share.

While the government approach and Internet deployment and the community and people in the area, it is just this kind of a project, we plan the project a year before with the universal obligation has paid this amount of money to the government and this amount of money that's being used for the project, so they deploy the Internet access just in that district.

So for example, a district has a 15 ‑‑ so the district, they just deploy one point for that district, maybe my friends have a good experience on that one. The project contracted for four years. Surprisingly just was around for one month. Then it stopped ‑‑ no, it was 4.10 months later. Many, many ‑‑ what is it? There is many reasons why this stopped. Again, the funding, could be the skills, but I think the main problem is the approach of the project. Why if this year the government deploy, and they look at this agreement, and then 10, 15 computers, in that area, that's in this area, it consists of 10,000 adults, people including school that may be they need the Internet connection.

What the next problem is, just compared from 10,000 to just only 15 or 10 on the computer, they don't even have the buying power to buy the computer or laptop.

You have a sustainable Internet connection just in that one point, but the people from the remote area, let's say, you know, some area has a very wide area to cover maybe by motorcycle it takes three hours to reach this Internet access. It is very difficult to provide everybody. I think I need to ‑‑ what is it? How does the Caribbean handle this kind of thing while in our experience I give the surfaces to the government in this area?

I ‑‑ what is it ‑‑ very happy to visit remote areas just because I ‑‑ my ‑‑ I come from the remote areas to see how people are living. I agree with my friend, Internet is not that priority.

Let's say, for example, for one day you have to spend 10,000 rubes or above just to eat, the cost of the Internet access with this government facility is about the same.

That's for two hours. They're using the sensitive weather broad band, and if they come in the rainy season, they pay 10,000 in the winter, it stops, then it is useless.

So, that's the picture of this ‑‑ what is it ‑‑ the experience. If the Caribbean, what is it ‑‑ project, proves successful. I believe that the approach is very much different. It is not ISO that exists and integrated efforts, it is not just only bringing the computer into the district and then that's it, yeah.

Thank you for the time.


I have to say, first of all, community access points, they have a high failure rate in the Caribbean.

There are lessons we can learn from the success stories and as you rightly said, it is not sufficient just to bring the technology and to put it down. Some people would be inclined to experiment, but you still have to introduce the technology in a way that people are comfortable experimenting with it.

The big question, always with technologies, you provided, what are you going to do with it now? What is the next step? This is where I think public awareness and education comes into play.

The CTU, we do a lot of work with education and just raising awareness. Sometimes it is just a case of flicking a light switch so that people can say oh, okay, I could use this for ‑‑ then the imagination takes over and the experimenting starts.

There is ‑‑ you have to engage multiple stakeholders and as my colleague said, it is ‑‑ it has to be a bottom‑up approach, you can't just put it there and expect things to happen, it is not automatic. You really need to engage at the grassroots level to start with. To educate, to raise awareness. Just to open people's eyes. To explain why you have put that ‑‑ why you are planning to put this there in the context of what the community does. If you could link it to some economic activity, some computer access centers provide training for what certification is given. Right. That's an incentive to young people to come and, you know, make the commitment to take advantage of the opportunities to be certified.

So, there's a lot of ‑‑ you really need to treat it on a case by case basis because one size does not fit all. You have to understand the community and what the aspirations are if you're going to design an ecosystem or environment in which the community access points brings tangible benefits.

It is ‑‑ you have to understand the communities and the culture and the people and the things that would drive and motivate them. Yes. I would be happy to talk a bit more offline, I'm certainly going to let someone else say something.

>> I want to share a story about the rural deployments of a place where they have no money. Literally they didn't have any cash on the island, the bank is on the main island. The currency doesn't really work on those places. We went out, rebuilt the volunteered to rebuild a classroom, turn it into a computer lab, put in a system, after all the work was done, on our last day we decided to demonstrate Skype so we took out a big white blanket on the field, hooked up the computer, fired up Skype. We started calling around the world.

Almost everybody on the island was there, were there to see this. You know, they're only used to talking on ham radio to the neighboring islands, they heard you could actually see faces and talk to them. So, almost everybody was there. All the elders, the chiefs, they were there.

Every time we connect up all the students, the kids, the community, they cheered and would sing and for us, it was really amazing. This ‑‑ it was ‑‑ we took that as a ‑‑ just as a common thing, out there it was a -- we had never seen that before. I felt that when I walked in, saw Windows '95 back then, with the screensaver, I think that's how they felt.

One of the elders, that was sitting in front of us, he turned back, you could see the emotion in his face, the teary eyes, he came up to me, he thanked me. He told me that one of the guys on the wall was his grandson and he hadn't seen him in over four years.

On the project we had enough money to pay for six months ‑‑ yeah ‑‑  no. No. Three months. Three months for the MRC.

Our plan was to talk to the government to pay for it after the three months. So, the three months, it didn't really kick in. We were expecting them to be disconnected after three months, but guess what, those people? They told their relatives off island to pay for it. It was ‑‑ it was just ‑‑ we didn't plan it that way. Until now, those people, it is three years now and their relatives outside pay for that so that they could call home, you know.

After talking to our team, we felt that that kind of made them have that ownership. We're letting them do that until, you know, they get tired of paying for it themselves and maybe look to the government to help pay for that.

They got to see the value, they have to see the value of the technology. Then everything just flows.

Thank you.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you for that wonderful example.

>> There's a gap between the expectation and the requirement of the user program as my friend told you.

From the user perspective they just deployed the infrastructure. That's the requirement, that's the basic requirement that they have to do. They deliver those and they don't care about the ‑‑ how the people he gaged with the facility. We need more program, we need more assistance, we need more walk around in that area. How we can help people to engage in this facility, and then utilize time to benefit their life, we have to see ‑‑ we have to help them to find a solution for a long‑term sustainability.

As I told you before, sometimes, and often, there's a potential surrounding the community, for example, from the local government and maybe NGOs and maybe there is a major issue in the west, we will see that there is a factory there, and it's in this area, they are very rich, they can pay you for the Internet access just for free, how much you want, they can just give you. All we needed was somebody to talk to them, who is the somebody? Actually we expect the government to do that. You really told them that they won't listen to us. That's the situation with that area.

>> MIKE JENSEN: Thank you. That's a good point being raised here.

We can see the public access centers funded by the people using them and that we must look at alternative funding means especially the initial phases. What can happen, the new technologies can become available, environment can be more competitive. If the price is low enough for the people that use it, then there will be more and more economies, more people will use them and the cost can be shared amongst more people which then stimulates more use and lowers the price per user.

Another aspect of this though, is not to think of these community access points purely as a bunch of PCs giving people Internet access. I think especially this day and age where there is more and more affordable tablets and smartphones, the centers need to be looked at as a place for training, to provide ancillary services such as printing photos, main different kinds of similar related ICT services, including the provision of access through Wi-Fi to the surrounding community and in these ‑‑ in these areas where the current population is distributed, TV wide space, the Lune Project, they can provide that access over wider areas than what we're used to right now. These can be real hubs and a starting point for that. I think it is important not to see them just as stand-alone computer access centers.

We're coming close to the end of our session now. Any other questions before we wrap up?

If not, I want to thank the panelists for an interesting, informative session and invite the participants to give us a round of applause for a good session.

Thank you.



This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.