Digital Inequality Between Developed and Developing Countries Grows; Ooredoo Reaffirms Commitment to Reduce this Gap across its Global Footprint
DOHA, Qatar, Sept. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Broadband technologies are today driving substantial transformation in many development-related sectors, including health, education, financial inclusion and food security, making them a key accelerator towards achievement of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says The State of Broadband 2017: Broadband Catalyzing Sustainable Development report released by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
The report has been released just ahead of the Commission's fall meeting in New York City on 17 September, and amid the UN General Assembly taking place 12-25 September 2017, also in New York.
According to the report, while 48% of the global population is now online, some 3.9 billion people still do not have Internet access, with the digital gap growing between developed and developing countries. In addition, only 76% of the world's population lives within access of a 3G signal, and only 43% of people within access of a 4G connection. The disparities in gender access are also becoming wider in developing countries.
"Broadband is crucial to connecting people to the resources needed to improve their livelihoods, and to the world achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. "The goals for education, gender equality and infrastructure include bold targets for information and communication technology. The State of Broadband 2017 report outlines how broadband is already contributing to this and makes valuable recommendations for how it can increase this contribution into the future."
Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, Group CEO, Ooredoo, commented that: "The report shines a crucial light on the ongoing global challenge to help people across the world access the life-changing benefits of internet access. At Ooredoo, we continue to invest in mobile technology, people and resources that enable our communities – in particular underserved women and youth – to enjoy the internet and use it as a means to improve their lives and achieve their full potential. As we deploy the power of digital technology to give people access to the services and support they need, we urge governments, operators and regulators to continue working closely together to address the deepening digital inequality in global connectivity."
Ooredoo's commitment to reduce digital inequality stems from its core mission to make the internet accessible and enjoyable for everyone. This is highlighted within the report with several examples of Ooredoo's efforts to harness broadband for sustainable development including:
- Ooredoo Myanmar's mAgri app Site Phyo, an app that provides farmers with localised weather information and best practices for growing and maintaining specific crops;
- Ooredoo Maldives Smart Campus, an end-to-end solution for distance education offered in partnership with Microsoft, which enables educators to maintain their curriculums online; and
- Indosat Ooredoo's Indonesia Belajar, a digital education programme that aims to use technology to help make education more available and accessible for children across Indonesia.
Delivery of this commitment rests on Ooredoo maintaining cutting-edge mobile technology across its global footprint, in both developed and developing markets. As such, Ooredoo has continued to invest in 5G-ready networks and in 2016, completed network modernisation programmes across all of the 10 countries it operates in.
This investment is recognised in the report with Qatar's path towards 5G highlighted in a dedicated viewpoint. Qatar is referenced as a regional pioneer in delivering cutting-edge broadband technology. The viewpoint observes that Qatar is one of a few nations around the world to have successfully tested 10 Gbps FTTH services, as well as completing one of the first 5G mobile trials in the MENA region, reaching speeds of 35.46 Gbps. Qatar is said to be on the brink of becoming a truly smart nation with the series of technological breakthroughs it has achieved demonstrating the potential of 5G for industry, society and individuals alike.
Issued annually, The State of Broadband report is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.
The report also examines global trends in broadband connectivity and technologies, reflects on policy and regulatory developments, as well as the applications of broadband for sustainable development. It also presents several policy recommendations.
Promoting investment in broadband connectivity from a broad range of sectors, the report notes, can help achieve the full potential of these technologies and bring the world closer to the goal of an inclusive digital society accessible by all.
Ooredoo is an international communications company operating across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Serving consumers and businesses in 10 countries, Ooredoo delivers the leading data experience through a broad range of content and services via its advanced, data-centric mobile and fixed networks.
Ooredoo served 138 million customers and generated revenues of USD 8.9 billion as of 31 December 2016. Its shares are listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.
About the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development
Since its establishment in 2010 by ITU and UNESCO, the Broadband Commission has sought to promote the adoption of effective and inclusive broadband policies and practices in countries around the world, with a view to achieving more inclusive and sustainable development by empowering individuals and society through the benefits of broadband and on the basis of respecting human rights. The Broadband Commission comprises more than 50 leaders from across a range of government and industry sectors who are committed to actively assisting countries, UN experts and non-governmental organization teams to fully leverage the huge potential of information and communication technologies to drive new national SDG strategies in key areas like education, healthcare and environmental management. The Commission's outcomes have included an annual State of Broadband report since 2010.
Learn more at: http://www.broadbandcommission.org