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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ITU, UN ESCAP bridge digital gap with interactive Terrestrial Transmission Info superhighway

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Monday in Bangkok say they are introducing maps of the Global Information Superhighway, to bridge the digital divide in Asia-Pacific region.

ITRealms reports that the project tagged the ITU Interactive Terrestrial Transmission/ESCAP Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Maps will show policy makers and investors where the missing links in terrestrial transmission are across the region, assisting ESCAP in its efforts to bring affordable information and communication technology (ICT) and broadband connectivity for all.

Only 7 per cent of people in the Asia-Pacific region have fixed broadband access and it is the most digitally divided region in the world, with Republic of Korea at 37.56 per cent fixed broadband penetration, compared to Myanmar with only 0.01 per cent.

“We have seen significant progress in the area of broadband connectivity with the landing of submarine cables in many countries, along with the expansion of national and cross-border fibre backbone networks, as well as mobile and wireless services,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun TourĂ©.

He also said that the ITU Interactive Terrestrial Transmission/ESCAP Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway maps would demonstrate the current status of ICT connectivity around the globe, empower network planners policy-makers and regulators from developing countries, while also industry with a powerful tool to assess market opportunities.”

Addressing Connect Asia-Pacific Summit in Bangkok, Dr Noeleen Heyzer, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP said the Information Superhighway mapping will play an important role in addressing this digital divide.

“In Asia and the Pacific, what we call the ‘digital divide’ is in fact an income divide, a gender divide, an education divide and a knowledge divide,” Dr Heyzer explained, stressing that rising inequality – both income and non-income poses one of the greatest challenges in Asia-Pacific and technological progress has often widened these gaps, separating those with education and knowledge from those without.

Toure continued to together we must bridge the ICT divide by building a seamless information and communication space in the region through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway. Our efforts must be global in ambition, regional in scope, and local in execution.”

“These new online interactive maps, developed with the assistance of ESCAP and the United Nations Cartographic Section, will serve as a powerful tool to facilitate the development of broadband connectivity worldwide,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. TourĂ©. “These authoritative, cutting-edge ICT data-mapping platforms will take stock of national fibre and microwave backbone connectivity, as well as other key metrics of the ICT sector.”

Dr Heyzer stressed the importance of public-private people partnerships, saying the full potential of ICTs will only be realized if transformative technologies are accompanied by shared values, shared commitment, and shared solidarity for inclusive and sustainable development.

The need to synchronize the deployment of fibre-optic cables with the construction or maintenance of railways and roads was also highlighted at today’s launch, as up to 90% of the costs of laying out fibre are associated with civil-engineering work that is regularly performed when roads or railways are constructed.

The ITU Interactive Terrestrial Transmission/ESCAP Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway maps will feature the region’s main transport networks – the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railways –as it is critical that fibre-optic cables can be laid in coordination with the construction of railways and roads to ensure appropriate cost savings.

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