ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission Aims At Global Internet Access10/05/2010 by Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.A global Broadband Commission for Digital Development announced today will unite industry, government and civil society in an attempt to expand access to the internet – and with that, access to information that is essential to participation and competition in the knowledge economy. A joint project of the UN International Telecommunication Union and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the commission is intended to figure out how governments and the private sector can collaborate to help meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to make available the benefits of new technologies, especially in information and communications, according to the group’s newly launched website. The commission’s findings are to be presented to the UN secretary general in September.The first decade of the new millennium was dominated by the growth in the use of mobile phones – the ITU expects mobile phone subscriptions will hit the five billion mark after June of this year – but the next decade of this millennium “will be dominated by broadband and especially by mobile broadband,” ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré told a press conference today.“People will be always on the move and always connected,” he said, “and information will have the same value as water, food, transport or energy.”The launch of the commission comes in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum taking place from 10-14 May. The forum is addressing the implementation of a plan of action for bridging the so-called “digital divide” between those who have access to the internet and those who do not. This year is the halfway point between the 2005 WSIS second summit and the deadline for meeting the MDG targets in 2015, and as such is a good point for stocktaking, and for re-evaluating what is needed, said Touré.The 2015 deadline is rapidly approaching, and “we are in serious danger of not meeting it if we don’t harness” information and communication technologies, he said. Three-quarters of the world still has no access to the internet, and “this has to change, and has to change fast.”A new report on the use of information and communications technology for development will be officially launched 24 May in Hyderabad, India at a World Telecommunication Development Conference, Touré said, and will focus on monitoring targets made at the 2005 summit. These targets included: establishing ICT connections in villages, universities and schools, scientific and research centres, public libraries, museums, and post offices; connecting health centres and hospitals; creating educational curricula that can prepare children for participation in the information society; helping build the technical conditions for a multilingual internet; and ensuring more than half the world’s inhabitants have access to ICTs.A WSIS stocktaking database is also keeping track of implementation.“There is hardly any aspect of our lives that is not impacted by access to information and knowledge,” said Abdul Waheed Khan, assistant director of UNESCO, also speaking at today’s press conference. “Without access to information and knowledge, societies cannot be competitive,” he added, but the flip side is there is a danger societies without access will drift apart, unless an active role is taken to narrow the divide.Broadband CommissionThe newly launched broadband commission will be chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and Carlos Slim Helú, the honorary lifetime chairman of conglomerate Grupo Carso, which is powerful in the telecommunications sector in Latin America. Touré and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova will vice-chair, with approximately 30 leaders in government and private sector participating. These include Julius Genachowski, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission; Edouard Dayan, director general of the Universal Postal Union; Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University and special advisor to the UN secretary general on the Millennium Development Goals, Hans Erik Vestberg, CEO of telecommunications company Ericsson. A full list of currently confirmed commissioners can be found here.It is rumoured that World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry also might be joining the commission, though at presstime this was not confirmed.The idea of the private sector working with the public sector is a “fundamental change,” said Touré, adding he had good experiences having come straight from the private sector to the ITU. “Government, the private sector, and I should add even civil society… their roles are complementary,” he said.It is “extremely important the governments and regulators should be clear on what this technological society means and what the internet offers… it’s very important that the barriers should be removed by governments and that it should promote the development of broadband throughout the world,” said Slim in a message by video at the press conference.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedKaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com."ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission Aims At Global Internet Access" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.