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Executive Summary

Affordable broadband connectivity, services and applications are essential to modern society, offering widely recognized social and economic benefits. The Broadband Commission for Digital Development promotes the adoption of broadband-friendly practices and policies for all, so everyone can take advantage of the benefits offered by broadband. With this Report, the Broadband Commission expands awareness and understanding of the importance of broadband networks, services, and applications for generating economic growth, and for achieving social progress. In its work, the Commission has not defined ‘broadband’ in terms of specific minimum transmission speeds, in recognition of the range of market definitions in different countries. Rather, the Commission views broadband as a cluster of concepts: always on, high-capacity connectivity enabling combined provision of multiple services simultaneously.

This Report has been written collaboratively, drawing on contributions from the Commission’s leading array of executives, thought leaders and their organizations, foremost in
their fields. And yet, the question persists – how best to connect everyone? This Report seeks to answer a number of questions (Figure 1), the answers to which can help us to realize the potential of broadband connectivity. It explores the questions of whether, and how, everyone can be connected to broadband Internet, and if so, by when:

  • Why should everyone be connected?
  • Is there a viable business case to connect the last 5-10% of the population?
  • How can we connect women, minorities, and disadvantaged groups?
  • Have Universal Service Funds (USFs) been extended to include broadband?