" ITREALMS: 2016 forecast: A4AI highlights affordability as key to broadband access

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 forecast: A4AI highlights affordability as key to broadband access

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has highlighted affordability as a key to broadband access in its seven-point prediction in 2016, reports ITRealms.

According to A4AI, the debate on what constitutes ‘affordable internet’ will heat up the industry in 2016, and governments will develop new plans for expanding access and will set ambitious targets to work toward the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

A4AI also underscored the essence of efforts to achieve universal access which will push the development of public access initiatives and USAFs to centre stage.

“As lower cost smartphones become available, consumers will demand more affordable data plans, putting pressure on providers to reduce costs and ensuring that competition works for users,” official statement from A4AI read.

The availability of alternative data access plans, A4AI said, will continue to grow, whereas the governments will renew efforts to develop and implement gender-sensitive policy and targets in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

A4AI officials in forecasting that increased focus around affordability as a key to access, pointed out that the attention paid to affordability as a key pathway to expanded broadband access and global development has grown by leaps and bounds since A4AI launched in 2013. 

“We believe this energy will increase even more significantly in 2016, driven, in large part, by new global initiatives and agreements that focus on the importance of expanding access and the need to tackle the affordability barrier,” A4AI declared.

Stressing that the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report, and the ITU’s Connect 2020 Agenda all underlined the need to ensure that broadband services are available to and affordable for the world’s poorest; they also underline the urgency of working to close the digital divide, laying out tight deadlines that should compel governments, private sector actors, and civil society to act. 

A4AI opined that governments will respond to this challenge by developing appropriate policies and regulations and A4AI will work on the ground with its National Coalitions to drive this trend.

On the debate on what constitutes ‘affordable Internet’ heating up the sector, A4AI noted that this believe was spurred by the ambitious targets set out by the SDGs and other development initiatives noted above, stakeholders will recognise that broadband prices need to move well below the UN target price of 5% of GNI per capita if they are to be considered affordable. Income inequality, which is most acute in developing countries, is just one reason why the current target is simply too high. 

A4AI further said that a more in-depth look at affordability will reveal that economic and gender inequality skew the true affordability picture, and that a new affordability goal and framework for achieving this goal must take these inequalities into consideration, among others.


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