CHAPTER 2. THE JOURNEY TO UNIVERSAL AND MEANINGFUL CONNECTIVITY
Michael Kende, Sonia Livingstone, Scott Minehane, Michael Minges, Simon Molloy, and George Sciadas,
ICT Data and Analytics Division of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Geneva, Switzerland
SYNCHROINFO JOURNAL. Volume 8, Number 3 (2022). P. 29-37.
The Global Connectivity Report 2022 takes stock of the progress in digital connectivity over the past three decades. It provides a detailed assessment of the current state of connectivity and how close the world is to achieving universal and meaningful connectivity, using a unique analytical framework. It goes on to showcase solutions and good practices to accelerate progress. The second part of the report consists of seven thematic deep dives on infrastructure, affordability, financing, the pandemic, regulation, youth, and data. Chapter 2 relies on the framework for universal and meaningful connectivity and the associated targets for 2030, developed by ITU and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, to analyse the current state of digital connectivity globally and progress towards reaching the targets by 2030. The framework considers usage by various stakeholders (universal dimension of connectivity) and the five enablers of connectivity (meaningful dimension of connectivity): infrastructure, device, affordability, skills, and safety and security. The assessment reveals that the world is still far from universal and meaningful connectivity. Infrastructure needs to be rolled out or improved to bridge the coverage gap. There are still significant differences between and within countries in network availability and quality. Fixed broadband is a costly investment and is not available or is unaffordable for many. Mobile broadband offers greater flexibility and is less expensive, and most rely on this technology to go online. But in many rural areas of developing countries, only 3G is available, when meaningful connectivity requires 4G. The coverage gap, currently at 5%, is dwarfed by the usage gap: 32% of people who are within range of a mobile broadband network and could therefore connect, remain offline. Data compiled by ITU make it possible to classify the offline population based on who they are and where they live. The main reasons cited by people for not using the Internet are the lack of affordability, of awareness about the Internet, of need, as well as the inability to use the Internet. Globally, connectivity became more expensive in 2021 due to the global economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. After years of steady decline, the share of income spent on telecommunication and Internet services increased in 2021. The global median price of an entry-level broadband plan in the majority of countries amounts to more than 2% of the gross national income per capita, which is the affordability threshold set by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. People should not be forced to use the Internet. However, evidence suggests that introducing people to the Internet usually entices them to stay online. Based on activities people reported, use of the Internet leads to an improved social life, with the use of social networks, making Internet calls and streaming video the most common activities.
Keywords: ITU, Digital onnectivity, Internet of Things (IoT).
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