By Adrian M. Reodique
July 29, 2016
In four years' time, member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be assessed on whether they have achieved the goals set in 'Connect 2020 Agenda for Global Telecommunication/ICT Development', such as the growth in use of ICT and inclusive access to the Internet.
With 2020 just around the corner, how are member states - especially the developing countries - currently faring?
According to ITU's ICT Facts and Figures 2016, only close to one out of two people worldwide (47 percent) are using the internet. The UN Agency estimated that by the end of this year, 3.9 billion people or 53 percent of the world's population will remain offline.
In the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, only 41.9 percent of the population are using the Internet while majority (58.1 percent) will still not be connected by the end of 2016, according to the report.
One of the goals set in the Connect 2020 Agenda is bridging digital divide and providing broadband for all. However, the report showed a huge gap between developed and developing countries in terms of Internet use.
ITU said 81 percent of people in developed countries are already using the internet which is way higher than the 40.1 percent in developing nations. The latter's score is also 9.9 percent away to the goal set for 2020.
On top of that, while entry-level broadband services have been made affordable to emerging markets since 2011 to the end of 2015, it remains unaffordable to least developed countries (LDC). This is because it still costs more than five percent of average monthly income in developing nations, according to ITU.
Additionally, the report indicated a low fix-broadband penetration worldwide, with only close to 12 out of 100 have subscription. In APAC, only close to 11 out of 100 inhabitants subscribed to broadband.
With this situation, how can new network technologies, like ultra-broadband, help countries - especially the emerging markets in APAC - bridge the digital divide and steer towards the Connect 2020 agenda?
According to Daniel Tang, CTO of Huawei Fixed Network, ultra-broadband is the next-generation of fixed broadband, which offers connection speeds of 100 Mbit/s or higher in developed nations. However, developing countries can also reap the benefits ultra-broadband presents.
"There are opportunities for developing nations, such as Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, to leapfrog technologies and move directly to the best and most advanced fixed technologies available, such as GPON/FTTH [Gigabit Passive Optical Networks/Fibre to the home] technologies since materials are becoming cheaper and cheaper. For example, optical fibre itself is even cheaper than noodles, and some operators have figured out the methods to reduce the civil works and engineering costs for laying out the optical fibre to the home," Tang explained in an email interview to Computerworld Philippines.