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ITU says pricing still a 'major obstacle' to broadband adoption

12 мая 2012

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Friday said that affordability is one of the main reasons why more than 5 billion people have still never used fixed-line Internet services.

The industry body in its latest report highlighted that broadband penetration in industrialised markets has reached 26%, compared to 4.8% in developing countries.

"Affordability remains a major obstacle, particularly in Africa, where fixed broadband access costs on average three times [more than the] monthly per capita income," said the ITU.

To make services more affordable and to encourage network deployment, the ITU highlighted the role that national regulators need to play in order to foster investment.

"Although government intervention has been necessary in some cases, the regulatory approach to ICT has generally been characterized by a reliance on market mechanisms to select more efficient structures and to provide better quality of service and choice to the user," noted the ITU. "Broadband, however, brings newer, broader and greater challenges, a greater scale of operations and greater responsibilities for government, the regulator, and industry.

"While there is a good case to be made for competition and market-based approaches... policy-makers and regulators must balance respect for market forces with the need to prevent market failures."

The ITU's view on the gap between the mobile broadband haves and have-nots also makes for bleak reading.

Just 8.5% of the population in developing countries had mobile broadband access in 2011. In addition, developing nations accounted for just 5% of broadband-enabled mobile handsets in use globally.

"In order for all citizens to benefit from the economic growth driven by broadband, huge and sustained investments in networks are needed," said ITU secretary general Hamadoun Touré, in a statement. "Ensuring investment and innovation without stifling competition is the key challenge today's ICT regulators face."

Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, reiterated the industry body's view that broadband should be regarded as part of a country's critical infrastructure.

"Congruent with its level of importance, well-articulated broadband strategies and plans are now needed," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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