From economic growth to improved health and education outcomes, the benefits of increased Internet access are wide-ranging and well-known. Despite this, over 60% of the world’s population is still offline. What can we do to overcome this affordability barrier and connect the next billion Internet users?
This critical question will be discussed at the upcoming 2015 Internet Governance Forum, taking place November 10-13 in João Pessoa, Brazil. A4AI recently submitted a short paper to the IGF, which looks at “The Policy Tools Making Internet Access More Affordable Across the World.” There are a number of reasons these populations are offline, including low levels of digital literacy, a lack of relevant content, and insufficient infrastructure. Yet it is the high cost to connect that remains the primary barrier to increasing access in developing and emerging countries around the globe.
This paper seeks to provide policymakers working at both the international and national levels with brief insights into the key best practices and policy tools proven to reduce costs and make Internet services more affordable. The paper specifically focuses on three best practice areas that can directly lower industry cost structure and end user costs: (1) infrastructure sharing; (2) a balanced approach to taxation of information and communication technology (ICT) goods and services; and (3) the effective use of Universal Service and Access Funds (USAFs).
Image credit: An Information-communication Revolution in the Pacific, World Bank Photo Collection (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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