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ITU Secretary General Wants World to Get 20Mbps Broadband by 2020

Monday, March 18th, 2013 (8:13 am) - Score 1,529

The Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Dr Hamadoun Touré, has told the 7th Meeting of the Broadband Commission in Mexico City that he’d like to “dream big” and set a new goal to ensure that everybody in the world can access broadband internet speeds of 20Mbps for $20 a month (£13.25) by 2020.

At present the United Nations (UN) global digital development targets for internet access are focused on ensuring that “all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions” by 2015. The top four broadband access related commitments are stated below.

United Nations Digital Broadband Development Targets (2015)

1. Making broadband policy universal.

* By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.

2. Making broadband affordable.

* By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (for example, amount to less than 5% of average monthly income).

3. Connecting homes to broadband.

* By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.

4. Getting people online.

* By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

After the meeting Dr Hamadoun Touré also hinted at the possibility of setting a new goal for the future, which would simply be called Goal 20-20 by 2020 and aims to make broadband internet speeds (we assume downloads) of 20Mbps (Megabits per second) available to 100% of the world for just $20 a month by the year 2020.

So far the only “ambitious new target” that has officially been set at the meeting mandates “gender equality in broadband access by the year 2020“, which Dr Hamadoun Touré described as being a “key pillar of the post-2015 global development agenda“. In other words there will be a post-2015 agenda but the details have not yet been completely finalised.

The Broadband Commission has also launched a new Task Group for the post-2015 development agenda and the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which is being led by Ericsson. It remains to be seen whether the new 20Mbps goal, which could be quite difficult for some developing and even a few developed countries to achieve, will be adopted as official policy.

It’s worth remembering that Europe’s Digital Agenda expects 100% of EU households to have access to service speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2020, while the United Kingdom is aiming for 90% of people to have access to speeds of 25Mbps+ by 2015 (the UK has yet to set a clear post-2015 strategy but it’s likely to mirror the EU).

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