The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development held its 2019 Spring Meeting in Menlo Park, United States of America, 28-29 April, under the theme “Shaping the future of broadband for sustainable development”.
Broadband Commissioners – representing the broadband industry, governments, academia and United Nations agencies – reviewed the important work underway and the progress achieved by the Commission’s Working Groups and discussed future trends and developments now that more than half of the global population is online. They discussed how collaborative approaches could contribute to faster digital transformation and how investment strategies and people-centred approaches enable people to get and remain online in an informed, inclusive, secured and sustainable manner.
The Commissioners also examined the use of innovative partnerships and business models to assist the expansion of broadband networks and foster secured uptake and the development of digital skills in remote and rural areas to ensure widespread access to the benefits of broadband.
The meeting was hosted by Facebook.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Co-Chair of the Commission said, “[There is no] valid reason to constrain basic freedoms or limit access to broadband. We simply need the means to enforce our laws and hold individuals accountable for what they do online, just as we do offline.”
“Creating an attractive environment for investment in digital infrastructure must be one of our top priorities in order to achieve our goal of connecting the remaining half of the global population,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “Future networks like 5G and other emerging technologies are set to play a pivotal role in the digital economy. Our task is to ensure that they can benefit everyone, everywhere.”
Mr Carlos Slim, Co-Chair of the Commission in a message delivered on his behalf emphasized the need to have “a regulatory framework that encourages competition and innovation, generates investment and benefits consumers. It should have stable conditions to give confidence and certainty for investment. Penetration, connectivity and convergence should be promoted. He added, “the issues discussed by the Commission at this year’s Spring meeting are crucial to shape the “Future of Broadband” in a way that it enhances the quality of life for everyone.”
Kevin Martin, Facebook Vice president of Mobile and Global Access Policy said, “Facebook was honoured to host the Broadband Commission and support its important work to connect the unconnected so they can safely use and benefit from the Internet.”
On Sunday, 28 April, Commissioners took part in onsite sessions of three Broadband Commission Working Groups on: Child Safety On-line, Digital Infrastructure Moonshot for Africa and Freedom of Expression and Tackling Online Disinformation. This was followed on Monday, 29 April, with the full-day annual Spring Meeting of the Commission which saw two new working groups being proposed, on AI for global health and on school connectivity. The meeting concluded with a visit to the Facebook campus.
Comprised of leaders from government, industry, international organizations and academia, the Broadband Commission was established in 2010 as a top-level advocacy body promoting broadband as an accelerator of global development. The Commission is chaired by President Kagame of Rwanda and Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú. In September 2015 it was re-named the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development with the specific purpose of working to help achieve, through the power of broadband connectivity, the Sustainable Development Goals.