Share

1. Overview

 

This online module provides summary of the introductory chapter containing the background for all other chapters in this Toolkit. It discusses the role of broadband in accelerating economic and social development, the need for holistic broadband policies and the objective of a regional broadband policy toolkit. It also provides an overview of the situation in the Latin America and Caribbean region, by presenting leading indicators as well as opportunities and challenges related to broadband deployment and adoption. The introductory chapter concludes by summarising good practices identified throughout the Toolkit.

Explore this module

Broadband for socio-economic development
Broadband policy making
The Latin American and Caribbean region
Main challenges
Leading good practices


Broadband for socio-econonomic development

Key policy objectives for the regulatory frameworks

The role of broadband as an accelerator of development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has been recognised globally. Its critical importance to the three pillars of development – economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection – was recently acknowledged by the United Nations (United Nations General Assembly, 2015). The task of making the Internet universal and affordable was approved as a target (Target 9.c) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), echoing the objective already elaborated by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. Policies that explore the full potential of ICTs can accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The table below summarises the ICT components set as targets in the SDGs and includes others that can potentially contribute (Table 1.1).

Note: Not all SDGs had an ICT component officially included in a corresponding target by the UN. In those cases, identified by (*), examples were identified by the OECD to depict how ICT could contribute to that particular goal.

Sources: United Nations General Assembly (2015), "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld; OECD.

+ content


Broadband policy making

Despite the rapid spread of broadband, and the increasing agreement on the opportunities it brings, nearly 60% of the world’s population, or four billion people, are still offline. In the LAC region alone, it is estimated that around 300 million people do not have access to the Internet (ITU, 2015). These gaps in the availability and penetration of broadband persist, cutting a large portion of the population off from the digital dividends.

The task of closing the access and usage gaps is complex. It involves major supply-side challenges, notably encouraging investment and competition, extending broadband infrastructure into rural and remote areas and upgrading networks to match the rising demand. Additionally, demand-side issues, such as low levels of income, education and local content production, add new challenges of improving affordability and relevance of services to users.

+ content


The Latin American and Caribbean region

The Latin American and Caribbean region has made notable progress in economic and social development in recent years, enabling tens of millions of poorer households to join the global middle class. This process has taken advantage of external environment and policy innovations such as Brazil’s Bolsa Família and Mexico’s Oportunidades (OECD, 2016). Nonetheless, the LAC region still lags behind more developed areas in terms of standards of living, levels of income inequality, share of the informal economy, education, investment, government accountability, infrastructure, productivity and connectivity. To understand broadband policy making in the LAC region, it is helpful to consider some of the structural challenges the region faces, as well as characteristics that may assist further development.

+ content


Main challenges

The key challenges for broadband access are to improve the availability of service, affordability, penetration and use. A number of inhibiting factors are particular to the LAC region, some of them mentioned above. They are related to either supply-side issues, such as infrastructure deployment and provision of broadband services, or to demand-side issues, such as skills, entrepreneurship, local content, consumer protection.

+ content

Leading good practices

The main recommendations for broadband policy making in the LAC region are organised in the Toolkit in the Good Practices section included in each chapter. These are complemented by country cases that provide concrete examples of application and further reference for these good practices. In general, examples from LAC countries have been selected, but in some cases, experiences in OECD countries considered especially useful for LAC countries, have also been provided.

  • Overall, good practices focus on two key aspects: rolling out networks and supply of broadband services by private investors, complemented by the public sector when necessary, and encouraging demand for broadband by making it more affordable, relevant, usable and safer for individuals and businesses.

  • Public sector policies to increase broadband access and reduce use gaps should design digital strategies and national broadband plans using a whole-of-government approach. Built on collaboration with stakeholders and clear leadership, these should incorporate regular collection of data to evaluate progress and make any revisions necessary. Chapters 2 and 5 address these issues.

  • Encouraging investment to reduce infrastructure bottlenecks, by setting sound policy and regulatory incentives, should be a policy priority. A stable and predictable regulatory framework is needed to attract long-term investment in broadband infrastructure. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of this Toolkit address these issues.

  • Lowering deployment costs to stimulate competition, as well as infrastructure investment and expansion, may require regulatory reforms. Facilitating access to rights of way and spectrum and incentivising the sharing of infrastructure, especially passive infrastructure, for example, can help expand broadband provision. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on these issues.

  • Competition is crucial for reducing prices, improving responsiveness to demand and ensuring innovation in broadband services. Independent and adequately funded regulatory agencies are needed to address, among other such issues, dominance. Wholesale regulation should be imposed when necessary to facilitate access to essential facilities and lower barriers for new entrants. Chapter 4 focuses on regulatory issues related to competition.

  • Expanding broadband access to disadvantaged groups and rural and remote areas is essential. Public authorities can establish incentives and finance national backbone networks, when markets are unable to meet demand. Chapter 5 explores mechanisms for expanding broadband access.

  • Making broadband services affordable and accessible is vital for maximising the benefits of the digital economy. To increase investment and competition, policy makers should avoid sectoral over-taxation in telecommunications services, especially for broadband. High government charges on telecommunications services or on importing telecommunications equipment and handsets can deter broadband expansion and use, affecting individuals, businesses and governments. Chapter 6 further explores questions of taxation, affordability and inclusion.

+ content


BROWSE TOPICS OF THE TOOLKIT

Introduction •  Regulatory frameworks and digital strategies •  Spectrum policy •  Competition and infrastructure bottlenecks •  Extending broadband access and services •  Affordability, government charges and digital inclusion •  Convergence •  Regional integration •  Skills and Jobs •  Business uptake, entrepreneurship and digital content •  E-health •  Digital government •  Consumer protection and e-commerce •  Digital security management •  Privacy protection
 

 

Related Documents