“What we need — now more than ever — is for policymakers to take the initiative to develop and implement proven good practices, alongside public access solutions that will enable connectivity for those that cannot afford to pay for data.”
Hence, the 2017 Affordability Report looks at the policy frameworks in place across 58 low- and middle-income countries to determine what changes countries have made to drive prices down and expand access — and what areas they should focus on to enable affordable connectivity for all.
The global community has recognized the importance of digital equality for socio-economic growth and opportunity and set a target as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals: affordable, universal internet access by 2020.
To achieve the target, A4AI recommend that countries take action to do the followings:
Employ Public Access Solutions to Close the Digital Divide
Public access solutions — including subsidized access in schools and local centers, public Wi-Fi, and community networks — are critical to reach groups that cannot pay for regular internet use, even once prices have reduced to an affordable level. These programmes should become a key focus for policymakers.
Foster Market Competition Through Smart Policy Strong policies to promote healthy competition and protect consumers must be a priority for policymakers. Open and competitive markets provide the foundation for growth, innovation, and affordable access.
Implement Innovative Uses of Spectrum through Transparent Policy Governments must ensure they have a detailed plan for allocating spectrum sufficient to meet projected increases in demand, with a clear timeline for implementation. Policymakers should also encourage innovative uses of spectrum to advance affordable access.
Take Urgent Action to Promote Infrastructure and Resource Sharing With clear policy incentives and regulatory certainty, sharing provides operators the best option to reduce the cost of service provision, while also maintaining a healthy stream of revenue from market growth.
Make Effective Use of Universal Service and Access Funds Universal Service and Access Funds (USAFs) — which collect contributions from operators in order to subsidize the expansion of telecommunications and internet in underserved communities — can be a powerful tool if well-managed and transparent.
Ensure Effective Broadband Planning Turns Into Effective Implementation Broadband plans are crucial to integrate and sequence the above reforms. Plans that set clear, time-bound and measurable targets are best of all, as targets provide accountability for translating plans into action.