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Over the last 10 years, a growing share of the world’s population has gained access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT). Mobile cellular and internet subscription, including connection to broadband, for instance have improved. Despite this progress, digital divide remains, especially with respect to broadband internet.

The most vulnerable countries—the Least Developed Cou​ntries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS)—still face daunting challenges of integrating the information society. For example, in 2015, fixed, higher quality broadband penetration in LDCs represented less than 1 per cent of subscriptions and mobile phone broadband less than 20 per cent of subscriptions. By comparison, in developed countries, the penetration rate is about 30 per cent for fixed broadband and 90 per cent for mobile broadband. In LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, access to and utilising the Internet in remote and rural communities is even more challenging.

Part of the reason why access to broadband continues to be very limited in vulnerable countries is that broadband services remain unaffordable. For LLDCs, broadband costs as a share of GNI are comparatively higher than the costs in coastal countries, which have access to submarine communication cables.

​Increased investment in ICT infrastructure and maintenance and improved regulatory framework for ICT markets are required. National policies would play an important role in attracting investment in ICT infrastructure and services. The changes should be supported by efforts to expand resources and capacities needed to fully harness ICT, including access to reliable energy, literacy and technical skills.

​​Membership

WG comprises the following members:

 Commissioners and External Experts

  1. UN-OHRLLS (Chair)
  2. Novartis Foundation 
  3. Inmarsat
  4. Intelsat
  5. International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO)
  6. ISTIC, Malaysia 
  7. Nokia
  8. Facebook
  9. Dr. Carlos M. Jarque, America Movil/FCC
  10. Global Partnerships Forum
  11. UN Global Pulse
  12. VEON Ltd.
  13. Ericsson
  14. Dr Speranza NDEGE - Kenyatta University
  15. Huawei  
  16. UNESCO
  17. ITU

 

​ Objectives
  • The Working Group on Broadband for the most vulnerable countries is being established with the view to generating a corpus of knowledge on inter alia: specific challenges; best practices and opportunities related to investing in broadband infrastructure; enhancing access to broadband; ensuring relevant content and applications; and, enhancing sectoral use and life-changing impacts in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.
  • The working group will identify recommendations to leverage global partnerships in support of increased access to broadband services in these countries together with enabling policy environment and national leadership in the critical areas of ICTs.
 Activities
  1. ​​​​​​​​​The group was proposed in Hong Kong Spring meeting in March 2017. ​​