The report, entitled Broadband: A Platform for Progress, argues: “To optimize the benefits to society, broadband should be coordinated on a countrywide basis, promoting facilities-based competition and with policies encouraging service providers to offer access on fair market terms…efforts should be coordinated across all sectors of industry, administration and the economy. Developing isolated projects or piecemeal, duplicated networks is not only inefficient, it delays provision of infrastructure that is becoming as crucial in the modern world as roads or electricity supplies.”
One study suggests that in China, for instance, every 10% increase in broadband penetration could contribute an extra 2.5% to GDP growth. Other data cited in the report suggest that, for low- and middle-income countries, a 10-percentage-point rise in broadband penetration could add up to a 1.4-percentage point rise in economic growth.
Concerning jobs, an analysis for the European Commission estimates that broadband could create more than two million jobs in Europe by 2015, while a study in Brazil reports that access to broadband has already added up to 1.4% to the employment growth rate.
Offering much more than faster access to web pages, broadband networks are a crucial element of the ‘Internet of Things’, by which ordinary inanimate objects communicate with one another using technologies like RFID, without the need for human intervention. Such networks are already revolutionizing inventory control and fleet management, and are set to play a growing role in key social sectors like healthcare, through e-health applications, education, through remote learning and teacher training, and environmental management through applications like smart grids, monitoring systems and smart buildings.
Positive findings released by ITU on 16 May show that, on average, consumers are paying 50% less for high-speed Internet connections than they were two years ago. However, this fall is mainly due to price decreases in developing countries, with steep declines often reflecting the extremely high cost of broadband in the developing world.
The top places with the cheapest broadband prices relative to average national monthly income are all high-income economies: Monaco, Macau (China), Liechtenstein, the US and Austria. Customers in 31 countries – all of them highly industrialized nations – pay only the equivalent of 1% or less of average monthly GNI per capita for an entry-level broadband connection.
At the other end of the scale, in 19 countries, a broadband connection costs more than 100% of monthly GNI per capita. And in a handful of developing countries the monthly price of a fast Internet connection is still more than ten times monthly average income.
Direct to an Overview of the New Report (PDF)