IGF 2021 - Day 4 - WS #177 From commitment to action: braking barriers to connectivity

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> LISE FUHR: Well, I don't know if we are all here, but we can start with a bit of setting the scene. 

     Welcome, and good afternoon and welcome to the session about Breaking the Barriers to Connectivity.  I'm Lise Fuhr, the Director General of ETNO and I will be the moderator today. 

     First, I would like to set the scene.  Telco is for us connectivity is our business.  But ETNO's members are involved in rolling out next generation networks from fiber to 5G ensuring that European citizens, businesses and authorities are able to benefit from the promise of the digital economy.

     But as we have -- but as we are going to discuss here today, it is plain sailing there remains obstacles to achieve the objective of broad connectivity across our continent but also across the whole world.

     In today's society, not becoming connected is an issue and as society becomes more and more digitalized we need to all be connected.  Therefore we want to discuss today in this session why we are still far from universal connectivity.  And successful connectivity that doesn't depend only on one player in the market or even on one factor.  It depends on technological, financial and regulatory support.

     So today we want to first explore the main barriers to connectivity under these three categories, technology, finance, and regulation. 

     Secondly, building on real life cases and case studies, highlight how innovative technologies, regulatory framework, financial and investment approaches or business model can help address these barriers.

     Thirdly, identifying is concrete policy solution that can be transposed or scaled up to allow relative stakeholders to achieve universal connectivity. 

     And to help with all of this we have an excellent panel of experts with us today.  Coming from all over the world ready to share with us their perspectives on overcoming barriers to connectivity.  Let me present the different panelists. 

     Christine Arida is head of strategic planning sector of the National Telecoms Regulatory Authority in Egypt.  She has over 25 years of experience working with the Egyptian government in areas as internet governance and related public policies.  Welcome, Christine.  We should have had Geoff Huston, but he is not feeling well so he is unable to attend so he is to be excused, but we have Sophie Maddens who is the Head of Regulatory and Market Environment Division of the ITU Bureau of Telecommunication Development.

     Sophie has worked in telecommunications and ICT sector in international and multicultural environments.  Welcome, Sophie. 

     We also have Robert Pepper, but I don't know if he has joined yet.  He focuses on infrastructure and connectivity, new technology, development deployment and adoption.  We have Lidia Stepinska-Ustasiak, who is the Deputy Director of Department of Foreign Affairs in the Office of Electronic communication of Poland.  In her role she is in charge of international organizations unit as well as the social and economic collaboration unit.  Welcome, Lidia. 

     And we have Ana Valero Huete who is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for Latin America in Telefonica where she coordinates the positioning of the group in in regulatory issues in their operations in Latin America.  Welcome, Ana.

     And last, but not least in the panel, we have Julie Zoller, Head of Regulatory Affairs, Amazon's Project Kuiper.  The project plans to launch low earth satellites to provide broadband connectivity worldwide. 

     And she has worked with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense.  And we have the substantive Rapporteur, Timea Suto of the International chamber Of Commerce, and remote moderator Barbara Wanner of the U.S. Council for International Business.  Thank you to you all for joining.

     So to kick off the discussion, I will ask four of our speakers, Ana, Sophie, Lidia and Christine to address how they see the barriers to connectivity being tackled using technology innovations, financial tools and also regulation.  And first we will start with Ana who will represent Telefonica's view in underserved areas and case study of Telefonica's work in Peru.

     >> ANA VALERO HUETE: Thank you for the opportunity to present in the meeting today.  I think the main challenges we have even though governments and companies have been working for a long time in trying to close the digital divide, the reality is we still have a challenge in terms of extending connectivity to all citizens. 

     The traditional approaches, both companies and governments, the reality is that they have not worked as we expected.

     So we think that we need new approaches.  We need to do different things to get different results.  And in Telefonica we think the new models to extend connectivity to be three aspects. 

     The first with innovation.  Not only from technical but also financial and commercial and regulatory points of view.  The second one has to do with cooperation.  We need cooperation among the different stakeholders that are working to extend connectivity cooperation between private and public companies and the third is sustainability.  We need that this new rural projects are sustainable.  Not only from the financial point of view, that is key, but also that they contribute to the development of the communities where they provide service.

     And working on this approach on this new approach, we have implemented in Peru the model Internet Para Todos project we started based on the principles that I mentioned before.  We are working on this project with very relevant partners.  With Facebook and the Latin America regional Development Banks, the IDB. 

     We started the project in 2019 and in these two years we have been able to deploy more than 1,000 -- excuse me, 1,600 sites, 4G sites providing mobile services for more than 12,000 rural communities in Peru and extending coverage to area for more than 2.5 million people -- where more than 2.5 million people live in Peru. 

     The Internet Para Todos is based on the network for rural areas that is providing services in rural and remote areas of the countries.

     We think that these type of models can be extended to other countries in Latin America, and I think it is a very good example of how to work in new approaches to make sure that connectivity reaches everyone in remote areas in less developed countries.  Thank you.  Connectivity.

     >> LISE FUHR: Over to you, Sophie, I think it should be future oriented regulatory framework to respond to the challenges of digitalization.  Over to you.

     >> SOPHIE MADDENS: Thank you very much.  I'm excited to be with your here.  Old friends and many who we worked with in the past. 

     The future regulatory frameworks.  We see them as the only effective way to go in responding to the challenges of this digital transformation process that we have seen has been turbocharged by the COVID crisis.

     Today we see more than ever, and we still have billions of people that are unconnected, but we have seen in the crisis that the meaningful activity is key.  We need the new approaches, innovation and cooperation between stakeholders and sustainability. 

     Let me take you on a quick journey through the digital transformation and how it has changed the regulatory approaches.  We know that digital is continuing to improve access to delivery of services across multiple industry. 

     Ana mentioned cooperation between public sector and private sector.  Let me add in cooperation across the sectors.  ICT moved beyond just the simple communications and we have seen so much digital has become for every economic factor and business perform and our own growth and health.  It is supporting the economy and changing the societies in countries and regions and regulation.

     There's been huge opportunities but with those opportunities come challenges.  And yes, I do agree, we need innovation, sustainability and collaboration.  Collaboration between policy makers, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders at national, regional and international level. 

     We have the partner to connect focus area three working group with building digital ecosystems.  We need the collaboration and cooperation even with consumer associations and trade associations so really the multi-stakeholder environment. 

     We are connecting and developing the innovation and government interventions to leverage the digital transformation.  We need the digital and regulatory tools, processes, procedures, and mechanisms to promote the engagement of the broad and diverse stakeholders.  Internet Para Todos in Peru, we need all stakeholders to collaborate with us. 

     Indeed, in the countries and regions.  And what I add in there and Pepper will like what I say, we need the data to foster the informed, inclusive and evidence-based rule making and decision making and always have the economic and social impact in mind.

     Here are some of the core elements of collaborative regulation.  We need the space for digital experimentation.  We still need the pro competition frameworks, regulatory incentives. 

     In the COVID pandemic we have seen many stakeholders stepping up to facilitate rather than gatekeep but facilitate.  Regulators as facilitators.  We need the stakeholder engagement, and we also need those robust and enforceable mechanisms for consumer protection. 

     We need impact assessments.  We need the agile data driven monitoring systems based on standards for the interoperability of data systems.  We need effective channels for dynamic collaboration amongst the regulatory authorities.  Not just in ICT telecoms but with the other regulatory authorities.  Energy being one. 

     We need the regional and national collaboration, and we need the regulatory expertise.  Let's think about capacity development as well of our regulators.

     And there is also a need for a new take on financing, but I will talk about that in the next round.  Back to you, Lise.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you, Sophie. If I turn to Lidia, listening to Ana and Sophie talking about innovation and stakeholder engagement and regulators as facilitators, what is your view on this and how can a national regulator support connectivity?

     >> LIDIA BEST: Thank you, oh, my god, I have nothing to add from Sophie's comment.  When we think about future proof regulatory approach, we can distinguish two areas of our activities. 

     First, which is strategically important is, of course, infrastructure.  And here we believe that investors and service providers and communication companies big and small should have access to reliable information on quality of networks, accessibility of networks and potential areas for investments. 

     Therefore we created one single information point with telecommunication data, and this aggregates data from many different sources.  Not only telecommunication data reported by operators in this context, it is important that in our case on Polish market we have more than 5,000 telecommunications operators.  Of course, majority of them are small, but still they also need exactly the same information.

     And this point aggregates data also from central office of geography and general statistic office and gives precise and accurate information on wide gaps and area for investments.  It is also a tool for consumers, and they can check availability of their communication services as well as parameters of the services.

     And this is our experience we are ready to share with other countries.  Thanks to collaboration with International Telecommunication Union we have the chance to share and help other countries, particularly developing countries from the Africa region and also from east.

     And well, because we believe that when we were at the beginning of this just after our accession to the European Union, we had the chance to benefit from experience of western countries and now we want to give it back somehow to countries that need it. 

     And I mentioned the second area which is important, skills because we are aware from the perspective of investment, entrepreneurs must know that there will be demand for telecommunications services.  And we know that technologies are widely diffused and used only when they are trusted. 

     Therefore we firstly on the national level we developed educational programs addressing particularly the most vulnerable groups like children, teenagers and elderly people.

     And at the international level I have the pleasure to be the Chairwoman of the group on capacity building initiatives advising ITU on area of capacity building development.  And things that, on the one hand, I have the chance to observe other regions and their specific challenges, and I can share our experience widely and help other countries and regions of strategies with capacity building development.  Thank you.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you, Lidia.  And Christine, we now heard about the experiences in Poland. 

     But you will present the connectivity dimension of Egypt's recent national initiative of the government of Egypt decent life that provides high speed connectivity to the inhabitants of the rural areas. 

     I think the panels also apart from discussions are good for knowledge their sharing.  Over to you, Christine.

     >> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Good afternoon from Cairo.  Sorry I could not be in Poland.  I thank the MAG for putting all this together.  Sorry I could not be there.  As other speakers have mentioned and as you have said, Lise, it is true that there has been so much effort put into, you know, getting connectivity universally and especially the few last years of the pandemic efforts multiplied everywhere to get the existential need for connectivity there.

     In the report from the ITU, it shows that we still have 2.9 billion people to be connected.  And the numbers that I stopped at is that 96% of those still unconnected come from the developing world. 

     So where I actually come from.  Also in Africa the region where I come from, 33% of individuals only are using the internet.  So obviously it seems that stretching this last mile of connectivity or actually connecting those remaining billions may prove to be more challenging than the connections we have already made. 

     And this is not -- this is because we are not just merely connecting or extending connectivity, but we are actually trying to put an ecosystem together which has to come together in order to provide meaningful access and get the remaining billions online.

     I would like to touch upon in my intervention how we in Egypt are trying to overcome those barriers and create the enabling mechanism.  This is national mega project that spans across different dimensions so addressing the point that we need intergovernmental cooperation on all of the different collaboration that Sophie also was talking about. 

     And the initiative has the highest political support because it was launched by the president in 2019 and it looks at the very deprived communities.  It looks at the poorest villages of Egypt.  It will start with those with the poverty rate of 70% or higher.  We are trying to leapfrog those that are most needed.  When we look at the digital dimension of it, we are not just getting barely any connectivity there, the idea is to put together fiber connectivity or fiber to the home which is an infrastructure that may not be available in all places in Egypt. 

     But when addressing those most deprived we try to be future oriented as was mentioned in order to boost innovation and in order to be look at the future and have them come to the online world.

     So one other thing that we are addressing is how regulations can help get the infrastructure together.  While putting mobile sites for mobile connectivity, there is government funding so public/private partnership mainly through universal service funding, but the relevant intervention here is that we are enforcing site sharing and infrastructure sharing in order to make a viable business case through public and private funding.

     The third thing that is -- that we are doing is that we are also looking at how to stimulate demand.  So we are availing digital financial services through post offices and developing those post and digital postal services in order to have financial inclusion. 

     And then focusing the fourth dimension on capacity building components together with the society. 

     So here we tried to address, as I was, saying four main challenges.  One is how to boost innovation and be future oriented and this is leapfrogging with infrastructure with the highest technology.

     How to achieve sustainability through intergovernmental cooperation.  And how to address funding and the issue of business models.  And this is public/private partnership and the union of government and society to develop human capital and fuel innovation.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you.  I will open the floor for a few questions before we head on if there are any.  Please raise your hand if you have any questions.  I see there is a comment.  Yes.

     >> BARBARA WANNER: Says it should be recognized by public authorities the system is flawed in the sense that the telephone operators do not have a fair return on the investment and cannot price appropriately so that telecom have the capacity to invest more.  I wonder if the panelists have a comment in response.

     >> Thanks to such data is information necessary to assess potential revenue investment.

     >> ROBERT PEPPER: Ana, please, you go first because I was going to refer to Internet Para Todos.

     >> ANA VALERO HUETE: No, please go ahead.

     >> ROBERT PEPPER: I'm Robert Pepper of Meta, and we are one of the partners in the Internet Part Todos project in Peru. 

     And one of the things that made that successful, this goes back to what Sophie said that was important.  Policies and regulation were changed in Peru that completely changed the incentives for investment. 

     And by separating the rural area where it is most difficult from the urban areas where there are profits and you can have the competition, the government regulators created something called an infrastructure mobile or infrastructure I forgot exactly, Ana, what it is. 

     Infrastructure -- mobile infrastructure operator which created the opportunity for a shared wholesale network that any --  after 20 years of policy and traditional universal service and satellite phones and all of those things nothing worked. 

     But by changing the regulatory framework and incentives it attracted investment now providing service to 12,000 rural communities that had nothing.  It wasn't even an upgrade from 2G to 4B.  It was nothing to 4G, right, Ana?  That I think goes directly to the question about the incentives and ability to get a return on investment that fundamental changes in regulation enabled that and attracted investment not just from the traditional operator but also from Meta.  By the way, there is no universal service money there to do this..

     >> LISE FUHR: Interesting and shows how much regulation means for investment.  Over to you, Ana.

     >> ANA VALERO HUETE: I agree with what Robert mentioned, and I would like to stress the question about investments is critical here. 

     We have to look for models that will attract investments that bring the legal certainty that operators and investors need to put in place these kind of projects and regulation is key. 

     As Robert mentioned, the different approach that the regulator took in Peru really facilitated the implementation of this model and it is not so easy to transfer to other countries in Latin America. 

     We know the models that allow for innovation and allow for addressing the policy in rural areas.

     I think that having a regulator, I like this concept that Sophie mentioned before.  It is important the approach for rural areas.

     >> LISE FUHR: I see Sophie has her hand up.  Over to you.  Evidence is key for investment and then we also mentioned the regulatory tools and investment and Christine mentioned infrastructure sharing. 

     One thing vital is a well -- is demand creation.  As we collaborate across the sectors and foster the demand, we foster the demand, create the demand, work with government to create the necessary demand, work with anchor institutions, I think that for operators really provides the incentive to continue investment and innovation.  Back to you, Lise.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you.  And demand is certainly an important part, too.  Now we will go forward with the theme of technology innovation.  So and using technology and innovation to address some of the global connectivity and we'll use the specific example of Amazon's Kuiper project.  So a short presentation from Julie.

     >> JULIE ZOLLER: It is a pleasure to be here today and see so many friends.  It has been awhile. 

     At Amazon we are dedicated to furthering innovation and technology for customers, partners around communities and through project Kuiper we are working to help bridge the digital divide ensuring that broadband services are accessible, reliable and affordable on a global scale. 

     Kuiper is a constellation of KA band satellites in low earth orbit that will provide high quality broadband service to tens of millions of unserved and underserved communities around the world.

     Our initial constellation is 3,236 satellites which we'll deploy at three altitude and inclination combinations between 590 and 630 kilometers.  And we chose those in order to provide low latency service similar to fiber and also to safely deorbit the satellites at the end of their mission life. 

     Our design decisions combined with inventions like phased array antenna technology and the ability to connect to our global infrastructure like internet exchange points and our customer service centers will allow us to achieve three important goals with Kuiper.

     The broad geographical coverage, high quality service and affordable equipment and plans.  We are moving very quickly.

     Just last month we submitted plans to the FCC to launch and deploy two prototype satellites by the fourth quarter of next year on an all new rocket from ABL and we continue to expand our capabilities with more than 22,000 square meters of R & D facilities and we are now beyond 750 employees just working on project Kuiper.

     Kuiper is a global service and will need licenses in every country in order to provide that service.

     Each country is unique in requirements and timelines but predictable in and enabling regulatory fosters investment in projects like Kuiper and ultimately minimizes cost to the customer, an important factor in bridging the digital divide.

     There are three essential ingredients for enabling regulatory environment.  The first is spectrum access.  In our system that is access to the KA band which is already allocated to the fixed satellite service. 

     And the second is fair rules for sharing the spectrum that support new entry and competition.  And the third is light touch administrative and regulatory processes for license applications and grants.

     We are betting big on Kuiper.  We have committed to investing more than $10 billion to make Kuiper available.  It's an incredible from exciting and rewarding project for me personally, having worked at the State Department on bridging the digital divide, a mission that has only risen in importance and also helping to shape the ITU rules that enable non-geostationary systems at WRC97 and 2000.  A great time to put them to such important use.  Thanks.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you, Julie.  It's certainly a very impressive project, the Kuiper project.

     And if we look at it requires as you are saying considerable investments by Amazon.  And, of course, you must have seen the demand for the service the demand for the service, but if I turn to Lidia, we discussed how regulation can change the appetite for investment in both ways. 

     Do you think we need, for example, more public/private partnerships like this in order to reach to the remote areas where the business case is difficult?  Or is it enough just to change the regulation?  If I ask Lidia first, how do you see this?

     >> LIDIA BEST: I totally agree that public/private partnerships are very important.  Particularly that Polish communication market is very specific. 

     We have one of the cheapest telecommunications services in the European Union and therefore potential revenues are quite limited.

     And therefore for a stable regulatory environment and predictable law help definitely.  And which is also very important in the context of the telecommunication market is the possibility to utilize European funds for investment in the telecommunication infrastructure.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you.  Ana?

     >> ANA VALERO HUETE: Well, I think that regulation can be key in attracting investments and can be key in making business cases sustainable.  And I think that is one of the key issues for us.  And that was one of the key challenges for internet providers.  We want as a sustainable business model. 

     Depending on the subsidies from either from the universal services fund or from directly from governments, it is complex because if you are not able to develop a sustainable model once you don't receive that subsidies the model will not continue, and you will not be able to do the network upgrades and the evolution of the network that you will need.

     So I think that the regulation will have to make the model sustainable, reducing the regulatory burdens.  Defining specific conditions more favorable for rural areas. 

     To give you an example, Julie mentioned about the spectrum cost, and I think spectrum for mobile regulators is key.  And in some countries in Latin America at this moment the way that the spectrum fees are defined really impede that we develop service in rural areas. 

     We have to review this, and we have to review of the regulations in general to try to move towards a more innovative approach.  We have to put in place these mechanisms to evaluate the regulatory measures and identify which one are contributing to the extension of services and which are not being successful in the goals of expanding services. 

     I think we need to review the approach from the regulatory point of view to facilitate on these models.  We have to review many different aspects from competition to network -- to spectrum assignment to infrastructure development rules that can be reviewed to adapt to the specific conditions of rural areas.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you, Ana.  Over to you, Robert.  If you look at the technologies and we talked about innovation and here we have heard about satellites.  There are many technologies that can deliver connectivity. 

     What are your views on what can fundamentally change the network ecosystem from the perspective of Meta?

     >> ROBERT PEPPER: Thanks.  Good to see a lot of my friends here including I guess Sam is in the room at least virtually.  Traditionally there have been the networking technologies and for private sector investment, you know, the cost structure and density limited where there would be the business case for deploying the technology.

     And then there was a gap to reach the lower density areas that were difficult areas and that is where traditionally we had things like universal service support or other things to close that gap.

     I think we are at a point now we are really lucky because the new technologies that you see coming on to provide broadband connectivity, number one, they are becoming much more robust and much more reliable.

     And lower cost.  And you know, Kuiper is really exciting.  We heard for years that, you know, satellite broadband, you know, lower cost, low latency was going to be here.  It was always two years away.  It is not two years away, it's here and it's now.  And that is really significant. 

     On the terrestrial side, we are seeing similar kinds of technology breakthroughs.

     If you think about it, you know, there has been a major technology trend, shift going back 40 years.  It began in the 1980's and 1990's and that was from analog to digital and lowered the cost. 

     And as it lowered the cost they have a business case to provide in areas that previously had not been affordable but now are for the sustainable business.

     Then in the first decade of the 21st century the shift was from physical to -- hardware to software.  Software defined networks that lowered the costs and put more features into the cloud so the operators could do more at a lower cost.  And now we are at a move towards disaggregated interoperable technology so you can get the best of breed and lower the costs and create sustainable business models you know, where previously they didn't exist.

     The best example of this trend towards you know and the use of these is OpenRAN, the Open Radio Access Network.  Being able to have plug in play so any operator can use best of breed at any layer of the stack and also connecting back to the core. 

     In fact, in Internet Para Todos we are using OpenRAN and it has been a breakthrough because the cost of that technology has come down.  That is a great example, by the way, of the shared network.

     I remembered in English the regulatory structure that has enabled that investment is called a Rural Mobile Infrastructure Operator.  RMIO.  It allowed the business model called network as a service.  Having the shared wholesale as the service. 

     You don't need this in urban areas with the sustainable model and high density.  But getting out to the rural areas we are now able to provide mobile broadband service where it never existed and using the lower cost radio access network technologies.

     The last point is we worked with Analysis Mason which many of you know is a world class consultancy and they looked at this model of disaggregated technology that is really being developed and promoted but an organization called the telecom project and most of the major mobile operators around the world are all members of that.

     And you know, Lise, you know, your members have evolved, you know, signed up, you know, there was an MOU for deploying OpenRAN and the analysis looked at economic impact globally and in sub-Saharan Africa on the move towards the technology model and looked specifically at OpenRAN. 

     The base case, which is moderate development, moderate deployment would contribute to global GDP between now and 2030 an additional $285 billion to global GDP.  If that deployment is accelerated and policies like the RMIO in Peru can do that.  Acceleration could result in incremental of 725 billion dollars U.S.  In India, accelerated deployment case could lead just in India to $129 billion GDP growth.  And in sub-Saharan African an additional $135 billion to the GDP across the continent. 

     This is really important.  That's why this trend towards disaggregated technologies. 

     The last thing is the public/private partnerships are extremely important.  That is what is going to make it work.  In the past, public/private has been private sector and government.  We can't forget especially at the IGF that as multi-stakeholder at its roots it is really a broader partnership. 

     It is public sector and private companies, and it is the technical community and local communities.  It is NGOs.  So the partnership has to be broader based.  And that is what we are seeing as well especially in these rural areas with things like community networks using some of these disaggregated technologies.

     >> LISE FUHR: It is in a network that is seen as the business model itself.  So it's an interesting shift because of as you were calling the network as a service.  So very interesting thoughts on the technology side.

     But nothing -- well, that initial investment in infrastructure is very important still.  So I think we must sustain the investment and keep the revenue stream.  So we have talked about investment, we have talked about development., innovation and new services.

     So if I am to ask you, Christine, on how do we keep the revenue stream enable these initial services to scale up, what are your views on this, Christine?

     >> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Lise, here maybe I would like to say that in order to make the business sustainable if I take examples from Egypt where there are areas where RPU is really low and when go to the telephone operators you don't see why they should be investing here.  One model is the service as a tool or public private partnerships and the other model is to actually stimulate the demand.

     And here as well is where the public sector will actually play a role.  Let me bring a real life example from one of our cities in the southern part of Egypt. 

     The southern part of Egypt is an area less developed in terms of infrastructure.  And here I talk about the city of Aswan that has 350,000 inhabitants. 

     And the case here is that the digital sector, the government and private sector cooperated with the municipality to build mobile towers and extending farther reach but the most important is implementing ICT programs to allow people to access services through mobile applications. 

     One of the focusing on digital skills development if schools for targeting the younger generations.  The other was qualifying graduates and micro startups by providing them with e-marketing skills and digital transformation programs.  And the third was eliminating digital illiteracy which was quite common in the areas. 

     The result which we actually witnessed, it was one of the first innovation hubs.  It promotes technology driven innovation and offers incubation for local entrepreneurs to start their ICT projects.

     What does it mean?  It means that it has generated demand within the local community to actually use the internet in a very meaningful way and that is important.  The coupling of human capacity development through municipality and the government and the public private sector I think is very important to put together the ecosystem.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you, Christine.  And I must say looking at connectivity it is interesting to see how much it can enable but also how complex a topic it is in technology and how the stakeholder we need to include, et cetera. 

     So I will look to you, Sophie, and ask in addition when we look at the business investment we might consider other drivers of connectivity.  From your perspective what are the other drivers of connectivity that you see.

     >> SOPHIE MADDENS: We all know that financing is a massive effort.  And Christine, your example is absolutely amazing. 

     How we can rely on the monetary and nonmonetary considerations and also that collaboration.  We've seen significant shifts in the approach to funding universal access.  There is still mention of universal service hubs, but there has been the insistent on fostering demand and fostering collaboration. 

     We have seen the different developments in the infrastructure sphere, in the public broadband and digitalization funding mindset.

     Let me throw a few ideas in whether it is about pooling financial resources, sharing open access infrastructure, leveraging public money to raise private funds.  But the goal really is to stretch, lift the financial and nonfinancial resources as much as possible. 

     There is a risk for telecom operators.  For anybody investing in the space it has to be worth the risk and the fundamental funding and challenge is to make it worth the risk.  Setting priorities and policy strategies but also in recovery and stimulus plans.

     It is about extending the sources of funds and using that combination of the monetary and nonmonetary contributions.  And it is about making smarter investments, moving away from funding to finance and fostering collaboration and impact investment funds and building sustainability from the start.

     Think about co-investing funds.  Funds of funds.  Pay or pay obligations.  Nonfinancial mechanisms that are available to mitigate risk both on the regulatory and policy incentive side and financing side. 

     Regulatory policy incentives.  We mentioned some.  Think about the smart policies.  Facilitate innovation and clear policy and regulatory frameworks that set the tone for the sector and financing comes along with projects, programs, practices, sustainable business models, thinking of the demand and supply side.

     We do -- I would want to mention Giba because connecting every school to the internet by 2030 is something that ITU and Uniced have joined forces on since 2013.  There is less people in the world that do not have access to the internet right now and we saw the COVID bump. 

     But it means exclusion.  So Giga brings the power of meaningful activity to fast track access to educational resources.  We are looking to equip every child with the digital public goods they need and make them empowered to shape the future they want.  At the end of the day we want to shape the future and shape the feature generations.

     So I just wanted to touch upon that.  At the end of October, we had a massive milestone with one million schools.  And the financing, the proposal to launch the connectivity bond to provide significant up front funding and mobilize the public and private capital.  We need to think about USO 2.0 to bring our hands together to financing the connectivity.  Back to you, Lise.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you.  And I will open the floor to see if there are any questions here before we have to close in four minutes.

     I think it has been extremely rich discussions and input from all of the panelists.  And also a good remark.

     >> LIDIA BEST: We have a question from the physical part of the event.

     >> LISE FUHR: Yes.

     >> AUDIENCE: A question from the Georgia IDF.  My question is about solving the connected society, how do you think about the community network models?  Could be useful as well so solve the problems of the unconnected population?  Thanks.  We support of big telcos.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you for the question.  Community networks.  Ana, maybe you can give a first go on community networks.

     >> ANA VALERO HUETE: Sure.  Thank you.  Well, I think that community networks can be a model that can help to extend services in the rural areas.  Sometimes they didn't have deep technical knowledge and deep financial capability to go beyond just the small village and extend and cover more villages and extend services to more people.

     We have still many of these models in Latin America.  Some of them they are very successful, but to be very honest, I think that models like Internet Para Todo have been able to extend services in large area of the country and bringing services to a very big amount of people. 

     That doesn't exclude any other model with you we think that this kind of model based also on mobile technologies are better in terms of allowing customers to use devices with low prices and available in the market and in many cases they already have because maybe they live in areas without coverage but move to area where there is coverage so any are really using mobile services.

     We are seeing many cases of community networks in Latin America.  But as I say in general they are small, and they are difficult to escalate.  But, of course, they are physical models and I think that also they need support.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you, Ana.  Anyone else wants to chime in?  Robert?

     >> ROBERT PEPPER: Just building on what Ana said.  As we both mentioned the places where it is more difficult for the mobile operators to build is shrinking but it still exists is.  It has become important to fill gaps. 

     One of the things the community networks have done and is complementary to the community operators is to help create the market.  It is parts of market creation and demand creation. 

     And when there are more people connected and using services, people want the traditional services with the roaming and other things.  I see those as complementary. 

     I think Internet Para Todos can be part of that.  And there is satellite systems and services.  In addition to Kuiper which will be directly to the end user, we have been partnering with other satellite operators to bring the back haul to the community and using community wi-fi. 

     There are a variety of different ways to do this.  I think that they can be very complementary community networks really can help create market, it is a market creation for the more sustainable more traditional business models.

     >> LISE FUHR: Thank you.  And I think that was the bell telling us we are now at the end of the session. 

     I will quickly wrap it up.   I first thank you to all of the panelists and also to Barbara and Timea for helping us preparing this session.  It is a great pleasure being here and discussing these very important things.

     But if we are to look at the discussion today, as I said, it was extremely rich.  I think our panel of experts has demonstrated that I started saying at the beginning that not only one factor drives connectivity.  We need to have a holistic approach and we need cooperation across the board from operators and regulators but also the users in local communities are important. 

     The multi-stakeholder model in some areas are more important than others.  It is an important part of the model, too.

     But on the other side, we also need, of course, to help generate demand because connectivity without the demand is not -- is of no use.  So we need to have some things that are needed for the population and skills, the right skills is also extremely important. 

     We need people to know and trust how to use the internet.  And we have seen I think Robert told us the huge impact it can have on many societies on their GDP.  I still think there are challenges and there are some difficulties and regulators need to have the predictable law which is key for making it attractive to investors and we also need the regulation to be -- to help us make a business model sustainable. 

     We saw it with Peru where it actually helped creating the investment and some through business models.  And OpenRNA can help us keep costs low and contributing massively to GDP growth as well.  I have huge confidence we are ready to innovate and have new projects in the future.

     So the future oriented approach to regulation we have seen in Egypt, ITU, we have also seen in Poland, great to hear those case studies.

     And I see those rules can help us make connectivity a broad connectivity.  And I think as Sophie was saying, we need to see regulators as facilitators.  And I think that is a good way to end this by saying we have a lot of opportunities. 

     We have a lot of stakeholders who are eager to roll out good infrastructure and make the whole world connected.  And we need all of us to break down the barriers to connectivity.

     Thank you all.