Today sees the launch of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), and marks the culmination of months of planning, hard work and collaboration between diverse organisations scattered around the globe. (See full press release here)
A4AI is a remarkable new collaboration that transcends national, sectoral and organisational boundaries and aims to drive down the cost of internet access in the developing world via a clear focus on policy and regulatory change. This growing coalition of 30+ members includes companies, governments and civil society organisations from developed and developing countries. It’s the largest and most diverse coalition dedicated to tackling this challenge.
Why has this group come together to launch A4AI? Simply put, each member believes that everyone, everywhere should have affordable access to the internet in line with the UN Broadband Commission’s goals and wants to play a key role in making this a reality. Whether it’s used for economic development, improvements in health and education, or better understanding between people, affordable internet access matters.
The Alliance will focus upon creating the conditions for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, as we believe that policy and regulatory change is the key to driving down the cost of broadband. Why? Whilst a range of amazing technical solutions to affordability challenges are emerging, even the best technologies in the world can’t drive change if monopolies or regressive policies prevent them from being implemented. However, experience shows that changes to policy can deliver impressive results, fast.
A4AI wants to see the UN Broadband Commission target of entry level broadband access priced at less than 5% of monthly income achieved. According to the ITU, households in the developing world currently pay on average 30.1% of monthly income for a fixed-connection, so there remains a long way to go. To achieve this goal, A4AI will deploy an action-focused blend of advocacy, knowledge-sharing and robust original research. The Alliance will work hand in hand with national and regional governments, and aims to be working on the ground in three countries by the end of 2013, and in 10 – 12 countries by the end of the following year. A4AI has already published a list of policy and regulatory best practices, and will release the first edition of an annual affordability report in December.
Ultimately, this is about making the world a more connected place for the benefit of all. As the UN Broadband Commission points out, over 90% of people in the world’s 49 least developed countries are still not connected, and as the Commission’s co-Vice Chair Dr Hamadoun I. Touré has it: “Internet – and particularly broadband Internet – has become a key tool for social and economic development, and needs to be prioritized, even in the world’s poorest nations. Technology combined with relevant content and services can help us bridge urgent development gaps in areas like health, education, environmental management and gender empowerment.”
A4AI’s work has the potential to help billions of people in the developing world come online, unlocking opportunities for them to access information and services that can meaningfully improve their lives. We urge you to support our work in any way possible.
We’d like to express our gratitude to all those who have helped us to transform A4AI from an idea into a reality. We’re particularly grateful for the unflagging support and counsel of our founding Global Sponsors – Google, Omidyar Network, the UK Department for International Development, and USAID.
Follow A4AI on Twitter: @a4a_internet and via #affordableinternet.
Like A4AI on Facebook: facebook.com/allianceforaffordableinternet
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