A global coalition working to make broadband affordable for all

Affordable Internet – Journey from 1 to 5

Setting a vision for affordable access:

A4AI’s new global price benchmarks

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is revising its affordability targets from ‘1 for 2’ to the ‘Journey from 1 to 5’ and encourage governments across the world to set targets that say the cost of 5GB of broadband, both mobile and fixed, should not be more than 2% of the average monthly income by 2026.

The Journey from 1 to 5 raises the ambition to increase the affordability of data at scale from first experiences online for billions of people across the globe to a sustainable minimum for people to come online and stay online for work, school, and community.

A history of progress with ‘1 for 2’

A4AI has long advocated for the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband to not exceed more than 2% of the average monthly income – the ‘1 for 2’ target. This target was adopted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Governments of Ghana and Nigeria. The UN Broadband Commission lowered its affordability target from 5% to 2%. These victories were not possible without the pressure from A4AI to set ambitious targets to reduce the cost of internet access and make prices sufficiently affordable to include everyone in the ‘digital revolution’.

This is no longer enough. While ‘1 for 2’ has been the target to help humanity come online for the first time, it is not affordable enough for people to stay online and for digital economies and communities to thrive.

Since A4AI started collecting pricing data in 2015, roughly 28 countries have seen their prices fall below the 2% threshold. In the countries we have collected data since 2015, 1GB of mobile broadband has fallen from 7% of the average monthly income to now 2.1% of the average monthly income.

However, no low-income country has ever met the ‘1 for 2’ affordability target, and even within countries that have met the target nationally, income inequality means that the cost of 1GB mobile broadband can remain out of reach for millions. In South Africa, where the cost of 1GB mobile broadband is just 1.4% the average monthly income, that amount represents nearly 12% of the average monthly income for the poorest 20% in that country.

The ‘1 for 2’ affordability threshold remains an urgent target in several parts of the world and for millions of people for whom affordability is still one of the largest barriers to access.

A4AI will now focus its efforts at three price points – 1GB, 2GB, and 5GB – to support long-term planning by governments to reduce the cost of connectivity and make affordable data prices ubiquitous across the world.

Action plan: the Journey from 1 to 5

The Journey from 1 to 5 focuses on the affordability of data at three price points – 1GB, 2GB, and 5GB – to support long-term planning by governments to reduce the cost of connectivity and make affordable data prices ubiquitous across the world.

Affordable internet access is crucial to the post-Covid recovery and holds the potential to accelerate progress in reaching other Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. For this technology to be able to meet that potential, it must be affordable and accessible for everyone, everywhere, and it must be so in the next five years.

Download the ‘Journey from 1 to 5’ infographic here.

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