IGF 2020 Main Session INCLUSION

Time
Wednesday, 11th November, 2020 (18:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th November, 2020 (20:00 UTC)
Room
Room 1
About this Session
Access to meaningful Internet Services for REMAINING BILLIONS is one of the main challenges to effectively overcome the digital divide. In developing and least developing countries, the prices and business models for Internet Services condemn those communities to continue living in a world without Internet. The panel will comment about strategic actions and public policies that have been conducted over recent months of health crisis, perhaps some applicable widely in the near future.

 

Definitive and Committed Actions for Connecting and Enabling the Remaining Billions

The recently published Report of the Secretary-General Roadmap for Digital Cooperation has presented eight key areas for action. The very first one: “ACHIEVING UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY BY 2030”, is summarized as: “Half of the world’s population currently does not have access to the Internet. By 2030, every person should have safe and affordable access to the Internet, including meaningful use of digitally enabled services in line with the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The solutions proposed over the last years have been based on national policies and strategies severely challenged by the rapid advancement of the demand-driven Internet in terms of mobile broadband services, forcing local telecom operators to constantly develop infrastructures, aiming to increase the coverage and serve those who are not connected. 

According to ITU’s 2019 report, based on the country's reports, “93 per cent of the world’s population live within physical reach of mobile broadband or Internet services”. Indeed those policies succeeded with growing Mobile Internet infrastructure, but also proved to be ineffective when providing affordable Internet connectivities. Because the same source indicates that “only 53.6 per cent of the world’s population now use the Internet, leaving an estimated 3.6 billion without access”.

We needed to face a global pandemic, to remind us the FUNDAMENTAL ROLE THAT INTERNET HAS IN OUR LIVES, but at the same time, how important is to achieve the UNIVERSAL ACCESSIBILITY as fast as we can, because if we don’t overcome this situation, in the coming months and years, near half of the world’s children and also university students, will not be able to follow online classes, billions will not able to work from their homes, and many others will remain completely isolated without any contact with friends or family when we enter in this so-called “new normal”. 

Two main factors determine affordable Internet Service: access to international Internet backbones and lack of fixed (wired) connectivity within low and middle-income countries. For sure both must be tackled with new and creative policies, with telecom operators, but also involving more actors in the private sector, those that traditionally were not involved with infrastructure, but lately is noticeable that are leading connectivity projects.

Access to meaningful Internet Services for REMAINING billions is one of the main challenges to effectively overcome the digital divide. In developing and least developing countries, having their people with low and middle incomes, the current prices and/or business models for Internet Services condemn those communities to continue living in a world without the Internet and where people have to choose between being connected and other fundamental necessities. 

This session aims to bring together the different stakeholders, to discuss the concrete actions that can be taken from each of the perspectives of their sectors. In this path, we will be able to learn about the strategic actions and public policies that have been conducted over recent months, during the worst health crisis of the century, and not only learn from the good experiences exposed by the members of the panel, but perhaps apply some of them in the near future. 

 

Policy Questions

What have been the obstacles to achieving affordable and meaningful access to the Internet in recent years, despite the significant expansion of mobile infrastructure deployed around the world?

What principles, approaches, incentives and coordinated actions, as enabling environment, should be central to telecommunication regulatory frameworks, in order to spur investment in and drive better affordability of Internet inclusive access and connectivity solutions in developing countries, in order to accelerate its penetration in their regions?

Are there particular telecommunications business models in fixed and mobile broadband Internet services, that have been shown to be particularly effective at expanding affordable access to the Internet, and what are the role of the other stakeholders in bringing about this increased investment and affordable access?

 

Session Agenda

1. Presentation and Introduction by Co-chair Karim Attoumani Mohamed

2. Presentation of the Panelists and Thematic panel introduction by Moderator 

3. Deliberation on policy questions 

    Round 1 - Policy question 1 

    Round 2 - Policy question 2   

    Round 3 - Policy question 3  

4. Participants are invited to participate through Q&A option. Message read by online Moderator

5. Reactions and Final remarks from panelists

6. General Conclusions by Moderator

 

Invited Speakers

Sylvia Cadena, Head of Programs / ISIF Asia coordinator, APNIC Foundation

Vint Cerf, Vicepresident & Internet Evangelist, Google

Sonia Jorge, Executive Director, Alliance for Affordable Internet

Mongi Marzoug, Senior VP Internet and Sustainable Energy Governance, Orange

Christian O'Flaherty, Regional Vice President - Latin America and The Caribbean, Internet Society

Moctar Yedaly, Head Information Society Division, African Union Commission

Modarators

Panel:  Roberto Zambrana Flores, Bolivia IGF Coordinator, MAG Member

Online (Remote): Karim Attoumani MohamedTelecom Comores SA, MAG Member

 

Desired results/output. Possible next steps for the work

All the expertise and experience coming from the speakers will provide sustancial inputs that make it possible to map out a set of recommendations for carrying out public policies that may be applied in the different countries, which may also be part of the actions recommended in the Report of the Secretary-General Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

As a final result, it is intended to establish an intersessional work that will develop its activities beyond this IGF and that can be adapted to the new structures that will surely be included as part of the new IGF+ model, which so far, has the greatest acceptance and consensus.

 

Links to SDGs 

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

 

 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
1. What have been the obstacles to achieving affordable and meaningful access to the Internet in recent years, despite the significant expansion of mobile infrastructure deployed around the world?
2. What principles, approaches, incentives and coordinated actions, as enabling environment, should be central to telecommunication regulatory frameworks, in order to spur investment in and drive better affordability of Internet inclusive access and connectivity solutions in developing countries, in order to accelerate its penetration in their regions?
3. Are there particular telecommunications business models in fixed and mobile broadband Internet services, that have been shown to be particularly effective at expanding affordable access to the Internet, and what are the role of the other stakeholders in bringing about this increased investment and affordable access?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Affordability in the context of Asia Pacific region, need to take into account 3 elements:

  1. Natural disaster that are common in this region, so the cost for preventing and recovery have impact with Affordability
  2. Complies to regulatory requirements, particularly regarding online safety and recovery
  3. Build local capacity to plan, deploy and maintain infrastructure

There are different realities in different regions, inside regiones, and also inside countries, regarding connectivity

For Internet to be useful, content and service need to be relevant. Local content is usually a problem in developing countries.

Another important key aspect besides connectivity is power. As an example, in Africa, citizens suffer from frequent power cuts. Besided, the majority of operators are nonAfrican operators, and most of the time have been guided by the return of investment rather than looking at the ICT as mean of developing of the continent.

GSMA mention three reasons why most African countries are suffering this situation: 1. Affordability (cost of devices, energy), 2. Lack of digital skills and literacy, 3. Lack of content in local language, particularly outside US, Europe and China.

Internet Connectivity has never been more important than this COVID time, in order to satisfy basic needs. Social relationships, economic activities.

Affordable and meaningful access means that “everyone has access to Internet every day, with enough (ideally unlimited) data, with a fast connection (at least 4G equivalent) and with appropriate device.

The current business model is encouraging the service providers to improve the access whenever people is connected with more speed and newer technologies and not as much in reaching those areas where people are not yet connected.

3. Key Takeaways

We need to provide low band frequency to increase coverage.

We have to work with governments and companies to reduce the price of smartphones

We need to think in the investment that is required, and also policy and regulatory frameworks, as the supporter environment where affordable and meaningful connectivity is reality and responds to these needs.

One of the things we need to do, especially to welcome new business models, is “fixing bugs” in policy and regulatory frameworks that prevent complementary providers to be welcome members of the ecosystem.

One of those bugs is having more collaboration between power and telecomm sectors, fostering more coordination regarding infrastructure planning and sharing. And all the savings coming from this coordination have to be transferred to users with lower cost on services.

And the other aspect is new innovative ways of thinking of spectrum policy, where unlicensed spectrum should be by default a norm, and not an exception. Portions of the spectrum should be allocated to the public interest for WiFi connections and others.

We have to enable those unconnected places to build their networks so they are able to reach connected places and deploy their own affordable access to Internet. In order to do that, we have to create an enabling environment. So we need to adapt the regulatory frameworks for those places, regarding affordability, power, infrastructure, or any other aspect that is needed.

We need to be open to new approaches and changes and doing things differently. We need to involve as many people (stakeholders) as possible.

We have to identify and remove barriers to deploy infrastructure (authorizations, rights, permissions)

Regarding Telecommunication Operators, Community Networks shouldn´t be considered as a competing solution but a complementary solution.

6. Final Speakers

Sylvia Cadena, Head of Programs / ISIF Asia coordinator, APNIC Foundation

Vint Cerf, Vicepresident & Internet Evangelist, Google

Sonia Jorge, Executive Director, Alliance for Affordable Internet

Mongi Marzoug, Senior VP Internet and Sustainable Energy Governance, Orange

Christian O'Flaherty, Regional Vice President - Latin America and The Caribbean, Internet Society

Moctar Yedaly, Head Information Society Division, African Union Commission

 

Panel Moderator:  Roberto Zambrana Flores, Bolivia IGF Coordinator, MAG Member

Online (Remote) Moderator: Karim Attoumani Mohamed, Telecom Comores SA, MAG Member

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

As closing remarks Sonia Jorge mentioned: "We really have to think more seriously about all different issues, and bring a very strong, not just gender perspective to the concerns, but also a perspective of rural communities. There is a need for clear targets and clear universal access goals by governments, in a way that are measurable, making all of us accountable and policy makers accountable. Target that are for the total population, for the women and girls population, so gender targets, and also very clear targets to address the need of rural communities."    

9. Group Photo
Inclusion Main Session - Group Photo