2025 Broadband Advocacy Target 1
MAKE BROADBAND POLICY UNIVERSAL
By 2025, all countries should have a funded National Broadband Plan (NBP) or strategy, or include broadband in their Universal Access and Service (UAS) Definition
Action to enhance broadband access is more likely when there is a national broadband plan or strategy in place, and/or when broadband is included in countries’ Universal Access/Service (UAS) definitions.
The Broadband Commission has been tracking National Broadband Plans (NBPs) and strategies adopted by countries globally for over 10 years, and originally named “Universal Broadband Policy” the first of its four main targets which were established in 2011. The target was revised in 2016 with an increased emphasis on implementation capacity through the specification of how plans and strategies are funded. Progress on this target is tracked annually in our flagship State of Broadband report. Since the first edition of the report, there has been a notable increase in the number of countries with NBPs or strategies, but more work must be done to monitor and evaluate the current state of implementation of these national plans.
155 countries had a national broadband plan or other digital strategic document emphasizing broadband in 2022, down from 165 in 2021. The number of economies with a broadband plan has slightly decreased over the past year as plans have expired and haven’t been renewed in some countries. While a plan is a useful starting point, it is important to know how well they are operationalized. For instance, around 100 countries call on the use of universal service and access funds (USAFs) to deploy infrastructure in unserved areas. Many funds have been unsuccessful in extending coverage, suffering from poor design, mismatch between funds collected and disbursed, political interference, and not incorporating sustainability factors such as training and education, maintenance, energy supply, etc.
An ITU report on financing universal access highlights the need for a change in thinking including alternative funding models as a way forward to “USAF 2.0”. The scope of such funding could also extend beyond infrastructure to digital transformation including targeting underserved groups such as women and girls, people with disabilities and the elderly regardless of where they live. Additionally, the technology funded by USAFs should depend on the specific area and complementary connectivity solutions, not be a single, one-size-fits-every person, area and situation. A mix of fibre, terrestrial wireless and satellite technology should be available for funds as is most appropriate.
For over a decade, the Broadband Commission has tasked its multi-stakeholder membership to develop policy recommendations that are critical to realizing universal connectivity. These recommendations are published annually in the Commission’s Flagship State of Broadband Reports. For reference, we have consolidated 10+ years of reports to present the Commission’s key steps for the Decade of Action to ensure global implementation and adoption of broadband and achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.