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Global Broadband Divide March 2, 2011

Posted by Saba Rahman in General, Human Rights, Innovation, Poverty, Technology, UN, World, World Events.
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United Nations recently released statistics for MDG. The Millennium Development Goal 8 was about availability and the access to the internet worldwide. The data as expected shows the great divide across the globe. It is a well known fact that there is a huge disparity in availability of internet access between haves and have nots. The disparity not only exists between richer and poorer nations, it continues to be the case within the richer nations’ demographics. Some geographies tend to be at a disadvantage either because of economic reasons or because of geographic location.

The progress in Eastern European countries, after they became independent, was interesting. The lack of telecommunication infrastructure in those countries did not become a major hindrance in their progress. They bypassed the “Copper in the Ground” phase of the technology for their communications infrastructure. Their communication infrastructure was mostly built on wireless communications and was helpful for their integration with the west.

Courtesy ITU

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has been working on a program “Connect the World“, aimed at providing the internet services to the population of five different regions, by the year 2015. These regions of the world still do not have any decent internet infrastructure. These regions will most likely benefit from the recent advances in the technology. Their infrastructure will probably have to be built on top of mobile internet access. The issue will continue to be the affordability of the access to the general public. Their buying power may not be able to afford them a viable speed internet connection. With today’s multimedia rich contents on the internet pages the connection speed must be sustained above a certain threshold for the access to be of good value.

AndIThoughT© …….. if Internet access is and should be a part of human RIGHTs ……. as brought forward by some in reference to the Human Rights Charter. The Finns have made broadband access a legal right for all their citizens. The access speed chosen for this purpose is 100Mb. Rest of Europe will most likely follow suit and their citizens will be better off for that. It will be a tall order for the developing and underdeveloped nations. to match it. The question then arises is that what connection speed is an appropriate speed to be considered a viable internet connection? Should any lesser speed of the connection be considered a curtailment of that Right? The current state of the world economy in recession is not helping the cause either. The global economic conditions are not very conducive to these type of investments anywhere, let alone in developing countries.

AndIWondeR© …….. How the developing nations will respond to this challenge for their citizenry. The governments and citizens of the major regions of the world may not be economically capable of providing and subscribing to it as a “FULL” human right. Would that be considered violation of human rights charter. If the MDG funds have sufficient moneys available for helping them comply to this goal. Should the UN provide additional assistance to the developing nations to make sure they are making acceptable progress towards the compliance of the “full human rights”?