With the UN’s SDG goal to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020”, the debate reopens on whether access to the internet is a human right. And furthermore, the exact definition of what the access includes, and what is “affordable”?
We know that solving the challenge of internet for all will require innovative approaches; new forms of collaboration; and ultimately, a new business model, if the changes are to be sustained and scaled. We know that an ecosystem approach that looks at challenges and opportunities related to infrastructure, affordability, content, and skills/capacity (to name just a few) will be required. But how can innovation and new business models be encouraged if internet access is a right that every person on this planet has a right to?
At the World Economic Forum, the challenge of “Internet for All” comprises one of the key projects under the Future of the Internet initiative launched earlier this year. Through a multi-stakeholder and collaborative process involving dozens of key organizations in the internet development space, including the ITU, one of the key objectives of the initiative is to ensure the internet develops in a way beneficial for all humankind.
A collaborative approach that engages multiple organizations and actors will be critical. At ITU Telecom World 2015, we look forward to further exploring how this can be done in the Wednesday plenary session on “Internet for All”.