Convergence of views on access at international internet forum
RIO DE JANEIRO, 14 November, 2007 – The Association for Progressive
Communications (APC) recognises that access is the single most important
element in any attempt to put in place a governance of the internet. A
broad range of suggestions for making access to the internet a reality
for the five billion unconnected people were put forward by governments,
industry and non-profits currently taking part in the second Internet
Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There seems to be a
high degree of convergence of views on how to improve access.
“The growth of mobile telephony in developing countries has shown that
the competitive model can deliver services to vulnerable populations,
including the poor,” says Willie Currie, manager of the policy programme
at APC. Many groups attending the IGF in Rio agree that what is needed,
is for the principles of competition to be consistently and evenly
applied to all areas of the telecom sector. Access to international and
terrestrial backbone infrastructure, they say, depends on this commitment.
“However, we need to recognise that there are contexts in which the
competitive model falls short of delivering the internet,” adds Currie.
When market forces alone do not suffice, collaborative models are needed
to extend access to under-served areas.
Since a competitive model needs to coexist with a collaborative one for
access to become a reality, APC advocates for incentives to be put in
place. Instead of hindering, information and communication technology
(ICT) policy should stimulate the participation of diverse network
operators and providers in service delivery.
Talking from the IGF venue in Brazil, APC insists that the timing for
promoting ICTs as a development tool has never been more appropriate.
This is particularly true at the level of rural and local access. For a
universal, affordable and equitable access to materialise, ICT
regulation and policy need to be integrated to local development
APC privileges a multi-sector model where different types of
infrastructures are bundled. “When laying down roads, the government can
install water pipes and lay electricity along with fibre-optic ICT
cabling,” illustrates Willie Currie. This approach, IGF participants
noted, reduces costs of infrastructure and contributes to a more
effective use of scarce development resources.
The APC network has been involved in global, regional and national ICT
policy processes since 2000, with a focus on human rights and social
inclusion in the information society and on promoting “digital
inclusion”. On the eve of the 2007 edition of the IGF, APC organised a
one-day event on equitable access.
For more information
Frédéric Dubois, Information coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org +1 514 660 0664