Working Group on
Smartphone Access

Accelerated use of digital public services during the pandemic, mobile money, and the need for digital skills for jobs has made mobile internet access through a smartphone more important than ever.

The Broadband Commission Working Group on Smartphone Access was launched to examine the smartphone access gap. Co-chaired by Mr. Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone, Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the ITU, and UN-OHRLLS, the Group was launched during the Broadband Commission Virtual Annual Fall Meeting in September 2021. Stay tuned for the launch of the outcome report in Fall 2022. 


The Working Group will produce a report and set of concrete recommendations including:

  • Original analysis and data on the smartphone access gap;
  • Quantification of the social and economic impact of providing everyone with smartphone access by 2030, including assessment of moving users from 2G feature phones to 4G smartphones; and
  • Analysis of initiatives or pilots designed to increase smartphone access. Vodafone Group has committed to launch two pilot projects on device affordability as part of this process

Vodafone is honoured to be part of this monumental global initiative with the UN, to improve the lives of billions of people through smartphone access. As our societies become more digital, everyone should have the ability to find jobs, be able to get public services, financial services and critical information that are increasingly only available through the internet. This is such a complex challenge that no network operator, device manufacturer, financial services provider or national government can solve on their own – but working together we can break through the barriers.

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group

The Working Group Model

Composition and Activities

Focus Area

Outcome Resources


Mr. Nick Read
CEO of Vodafone

Mr. Houlin Zhao
Secretary General of the ITU


Broadband Advocacy Targets