Broadband targets for 2015


25-May-2012

The World Bank research indicates that the contribution of broadband to the GDP is 1.38 percentage points for every 10 per cent increase in penetration, for low- and middle-income countries.

The Seychelles East Africa System (SEAS) submarine cable project constitutes a major breakthrough for international voice and data communications in Seychelles as it provides the country with an alternative reliable high-speed link to satellite routes with the rest of the world. This will enable the country to achieve the targets, which includes augmentation of Internet penetration, set by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and increase the country’s competitiveness.

The Commission was set up by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2010 in response to a call by the UN secretary general to step up UN efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Its role is to further the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda.

The Commission believes that expanding broadband access in every country is key to accelerating progress towards those goals by the target dates of 2015.  Recently, the Commission announced a set of newly defined targets for making broadband policy universal and to increase affordability and broadband uptake.  They are as follows; making broadband policy universal, making broadband affordable, connecting homes to broadband and getting people online.
The targets are that by 2015;

• All countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access/Service Definitions;

• Entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (amounting to less than 5% of the average monthly income);
 
• 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access and;

• Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LCD). 

Seychelles launched its National Information Communication Technology Policy (ICTP) in 2007 which serves as a roadmap to guide ICT development in the country.  One of the National ICT Policy objectives is to encourage public internet access and use of computers and other ICT equipment within Government and promoting affordable access to computers and internet at community level.
 
It is worth noting that target 2 set by the commission has been achieved.  The lowest Broadband Internet package available on the market costs SR175.00/month (SR201.25 inclusive of 15% GST and 1GB Data allowance).  The package is equivalent to 4.48% of the average monthly minimum wage of SR4,488.00 as published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).  Effectively, Broadband Internet access meets the set target of the Commission. However, there is still room for improvements if Internet is to become available in a greater percentage of our households.
  
The 2010 census indicated that 38.70% out of the 24,142 of households had a computer, although only 18.2% of household had Internet connection.  However, 90% of households had a mobile phone yet only 13.6% had internet connection through mobile phones. Considering, the extensive coverage of the mobile cellular, one strategy which could be towards achieving, target 3, the 40% target of household connected, as set out by the Broadband Commission, is by encouraging investment in wireless broadband  and fixed broadband technology.  This would ensure that households have a number of options to be connected to a broadband network and increase the likelihood of achieving the 40% target in the shortest possible time if the right pricing strategy is adopted.

The Commission recognises that connectivity remains a problem in Africa due to the high Internet prices and Seychelles is no exception.  There are other obstacles that may delay achievement of some of the targets as set out by the Broadband Commission and these include but are not limited to; the spending power of the individual; how much people spend on telephone, mobile, electricity, water and gas for example; the cost of ICT devices (mobile phones, computers);

wholesale costs which providers themselves must pay are needlessly high; network infrastructures;
and the legislative framework governing broadband development.

The benefits of broadband are of great significance, not only for all sectors of an economy and attainment of international set targets but also in support of culture and democracy. Communities and individuals can exchange experience and ideas, and each can express their particular and precious views of the world. Therefore, the Government and the private sector needs to explore all avenues in ensuring that the country has all that is necessary to facilitate growth and innovation.

Contributed by the Department of Information Communications Technology

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