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. Below we have highlighted recommendations from our latest report, as well as 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. While we have organized these recommendations into distinct categories, we would like to emphasize that all are interconnected and are not intended to be siloed, but rather are organized for ease of reference.
The following excerpt is from the State of Broadband 2022: Accelerating Broadband for New Realities.
For a smooth transition to a more connected post-pandemic world two things need to occur:
Governments wishing to reduce the cost of broadband access can resort to a variety of measures, from adopting policies that incentivize the provision of more affordable services, to promoting public-private partnerships as appropriate and creating an enabling investment environment. Governments may also consider reducing sector specific taxes or subsidizing access to free or low-priced devices, as well as free connection in public administration facilities such as libraries, hospitals or schools, or at other public hot spots. Measures to ensure affordable access to universal meaningful connectivity will ideally form part of more comprehensive broadband strategies.
Protecting personal data is critical. Many data protection frameworks are inadequate, lacking clear implementation processes such as a data protection authority; they often do not require user consent for personal information to be used nor do they specify controls for transferring personal data abroad. Efforts are needed for countries to create adequate data protection laws or update their existing laws to bring them into conformity with best practices.
Measurement of global advocacy targets would benefit from greater clarity and scope. More can be done to collect and publish granular, reliable and gender-disaggregated data related to infrastructure deployments as well as Internet adoption and use in accordance with international guidelines and standards. This can include the disaggregation of Internet use by MSMEs or vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities or the elderly. Moreover, more research to better understand the context, circumstances and needs of individuals and MSMEs not yet using the Internet can be conducted or supported. These data and insights are key in setting policy priorities, targets and budgets. Measurement of broadband metrics merits more focus as a result of the pandemic and the likely aftermath. Indicators that were not prominently analysed before have now become more relevant. This includes household indicators such as the percentage with computers and Internet access or Internet-enabled handsets. Both merit additional granularity such as the type of computer the household has as well as the type of Internet access and breakdowns by household demographics. Collection of asymmetrical broadband speed information is also important given the new significance of upload speeds.
ICT companies need to do everything they can to reduce and eliminate their operational GHG emissions. This includes adopting concrete targets in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations for minimizing the rise in temperature to 1.5°C.
There is a need for massive investment in broadband to bring it up to speed with the new post-COVID-19 world. Higher capacity and lower latency is needed to support videoconferencing for those who can work from home as well as remote learning in the event of future pandemics or other disruptions to school learning. The pandemic also magnified the existing digital divide and need to build out broadband infrastructure where there is no access. To facilitate this, governments could allocate sufficient amounts of spectrum on a competitive basis, prioritizing the larger benefits of investment in connectivity rather than the collection of high spectrum fees. In addition, governments could make licensed spectrum available on a flexible use and technology-neutral basis and not dictate technologies/architectures to be used.
Funding & Investment
- Use of universal service funds to develop broadband
- Update ICT regulations to promote more investment and market approaches for sustainability
- Expand initiatives to map network coverage and infrastructure needs, to develop priority lists for investment
- Incentivize and accelerate broadband investment
- Promote advanced market commitments for rural broadband access
- Incentivize Public & Private Partnerships
Policy & Regulation
- Implement new approaches and frameworks for spectrum allocation and licensing
- Merge regulation and convergent services
- Lower taxations and duties
- Improve right-of-way regulations
- Make broadband affordable by adopting appropriate policy and regulation
- Implement e-government initiatives
- Consider and, if appropriate, apply open access approaches to infrastructure
- Monitor and collect reliable ICT data
- Undertake public consultations on policy and regulation
- Improve IoT and Smart City policy frameworks
- Promote free flow of data
Environmental, Social & Governance
- Support efforts to provide broadband connectivity to refugees and displaced individuals
- Include in broadband plans efforts on digital inclusion, measures to protect children online, a focus on limiting environmental impacts and addressing climate, and public access initiatives
- Boost affordability and usability of broadband-enabled products and services, with a focus on addressing barriers faced by those at risk of being left behind
- Integrate gender in national broadband plans & strategies and undertake action plans to advance gender equality in access to broadband
- Address environmental impacts of digital infrastructure and the potential of connectivity in addressing the climate emergency
- Adopt a people-centric approach
- Ensure public confidence in participating online by considering increasing efforts to prevent cybercrime & cybersecurity incidents
Champions & Entrepreneurship
- Identify champions or leaders in broadband to mobilize political and technology support
- Encourage e-business and entrepreneurship
- Foster digital innovation by preserving intellectual property (IP) rights
- Foster locally relevant content creation and local hosting
- Build human digital capacity and skills to help users, SMEs and public sector agencies make the most of digital opportunities
The complete list of recommendations, with reference to the year they were originally published in a State of Broadband Report, can be found here.
In addition to recommendations presented in these reports, thematic Working Groups develop specific recommendations based on their focus. These can be found within their dedicated Working Group pages.