"Today and moving into the future, broadband technologies will continue to be the cornerstone for enhancement of social and economic development. The equitable and affordable access to the broadband networks by all citizens will therefore be the key to the achievement of MDGs, and all technological solutions, including broadband satellite technologies, must be considered as means to achieve such access."
- Mr. José Toscano, ITSO Director General and CEO
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The year 2010 marked a critical milestone on the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Adopted by all United Nations Members States in 2000 most of the MDGs remain off track, particularly in the poorest countries, amid a climate of global economic crisis and decreasing commitments to provide official development assistance (ODA) that further put at risk the achievement of the goals.
There is wide recognition of the essential role of ICT- and, especially, high-speed broadband networks - as cross-cutting and multi-sector enablers for the achievement of the MDG agenda relating to poverty, education, gender, science, culture, health, the environment, and dialogue among cultures and nations to help build peace. However, mainstreaming and coordination of ICT and broadband policies across nations and among national ministries has yet to materialize. With a short term left for meeting the MDG milestones, the digital divide has become a development divide that must be bridged.
A new focus is needed, and that focus is broadband networks. Broadband is a project for the planet that will enable nations to become truly connected and transformed.
Given the foregoing, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development offers a unique opportunity to focus attention on accelerating the formulation and implementation of relevant national ICT policies in line with the MDGs.
The Commission's primary focus is to reorient the development debate by explaining the benefits and making practical recommendations on enhancing access to broadband supporting creation of a connected world for all. Moreover, the Commission will provide broad policy guidance for the development of a strategic framework for action in order to:
(i) Gain multi-stakeholder commitment to the concept of universal access to broadband connectivity and content and foster political will for concerted and coordinated action by countries on achieving universal broadband access,
(ii) Identify key gaps in broadband research and development, infrastructure, packaged development applications and service provision, as they relate to the MDG agenda and cross-pollinate best practice initiatives,
(iii) Formulate economic and social development models that demonstrate the impact of universal access to broadband and define policy priorities for actions in the areas of allocating radio frequency spectrum for broadband, universal access obligations and innovative finance mechanisms,
(iv) Promote a set of exemplary targets, particularly in the extension of broadband access into rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing states, and use these to show what really can be done to speed up achievement of the MDGs. In addition, the Commission might consider establishing targets and timelines for countries and regions to extend broadband access and agree on actions to assist in meeting and measuring those targets.
(v) Develop a collective and multi-stakeholder "partnership platform" for broadband innovation and investment and deliver a series of concrete broadband commitments and projects for the inter-linked MDG agenda, engaging private and public enterprise and civil society to validate the main Commission findings.
The Commissioners who serve on the Broadband Commission are global leaders in government, business, civil society and International Organizations who have been invited to participate by Secretary-General of the ITU and the Director-General of UNESCO, with the strong support of the United Nations Secretary-General.
To achieve the MDGs through ICT it is necessary to recognize the role of all technologies, including satellite technology, in achieving digital development. While terrestrial technologies may remain the core of the broadband infrastructure, particularly in urban areas and their periphery, wireless and satellite technologies are essential to reach the objective of broadband for everyone, especially in unserved and underserved areas, this so as to allow the objective to be reached in a timely manner consistent with the MDGs.
ITSO (International Telecommunications Satellite Organization) is an intergovernmental organization with the mission to ensure that Intelsat, Ltd. provides public telecommunications services, including voice, data and video, on a global and non-discriminatory basis. Headquartered in Washington D.C., ITSO currently has 149 member countries. For more information, visit www.itso.int