Friday, 6 December 2013

Web Index 2013: Scandal of broadband costs in the developing world

Major research shows millions of consumers are being left behind by the digital revolution, blogs CI’s Digital Editor Vik Iyer. 

The Web Index report, released by the World Wide Web Foundation  (set up by Internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee) provides fascinating insight into how the web is impacting the lives of consumers – and to what extent.

Part of its remit was to look into affordability of access to broadband – an issue that many CI Members are campaigning on.

The stark facts are that on average, a basic broadband package in the developing countries in the Web Index costs 65% of average monthly income.

Put simply: in a western country that’s the equivalent of monthly broadband costing hundreds of pounds or dollars.

Between 50% and 70% of Africans cite high costs as the main reason they are not online.

It’s clear that, with mobile becoming the most likely way to get citizens in developing countries online, work needs to be done to reduce mobile internet costs.

Web Index made the following recommendations:
  • Accelerate actions to achieve or surpass the UN target of reducing the cost of broadband below five percent of average per capita income by 2015
  • Encourage community wi-fi and other innovative uses of spectrum for public benefit
  • Re-invest some of the revenue raised from the ICT sector (such as license fees and Universal Service Fund contributions) in achieving universal access to mobile and fixed line internet.
Web Index ranks countries based on a range of impacts, both social and political. Overall, Sweden topped the rankings just ahead of Norway.

Other findings of note included the fact that web and social media appear to be creating change.

In 80% of the countries analysed,  the web and social media played a role in ‘public mobilisation’.

Powerful evidence then,  that the consumer movement must tap into this ever-growing method of affecting change.

Many CI members are looking at privacy issues too.

Both the US and UK have been marked down in these areas, underlining the likelihood that this will be a major campaigning area that some consumer organisations will take part in.

But let’s leave on a positive note. The index ranked Mexico as the top Emerging Country (overall 30) and congratulations to the Philippines which has the highest ranked developing country at 38.

Indeed, we are told social media has really helped the relief effort since Typhoon Haiyan struck.

I suspect organisations campaigning in the digital sphere will increasingly work with the consumer movement in the ongoing drive to use the power of the Internet to improve lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment