The Three Dimensions Of Universal Broadband: Access and Opportunities in Emerging Markets





The populations of the island and archipelago nations of South-East Asia and the Pacific populations are dispersed across remote and isolated locations bounded by rugged coastlines and mountain ranges. Without equality of access to high speed internet, these people – often low-income - are disadvantaged educationally, economically, socially, culturally, in healthcare and civic participation.

The internet will improve opportunities in all these areas, but only if fast, affordable, dependable broadband can be accessed by all. Running fiber to the cities or offering spot price reductions in densely populated areas doesn’t do the job: it simply exacerbates digital inequalities. Equal access broadband is about offering everyone the same high-speed, low price service, replicated and extended at the will of customers.

To succeed in underserved, low penetration, low-income markets requires coordination across three dimensions. The first is about providing a universally available, high-capacity signal based on proven technologies and reliable, low cost, easily installed, easily maintained ground equipment. The second, about developing innovative go-to-market strategies to aggregate customer demand to the point where it represents a viable business case. These include small-business, government and community aggregators as well as family-to-family hot-spot service providers. And the third is to work with government and international agencies and NGOs to subsidize low-cost ground equipment for low income areas, and to provide training and access to a broad range of online programs in healthcare, education and government services and economic development initiatives.

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