back to article How to fix the global slowdown in broadband rollout: Redefine what broadband means

Wondered why all those government initiatives to expand broadband internet provision into poor or remote areas never seem to come to fruition? It's because we've been misdefining what broadband means all along. A report (PDF) by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "thoughtful approaches towards meaningful universal connectivity"

    Meaningful connectivity means you have a connection that brings you the information you need in less than a minute. 4G should basically cover that, so why faff about it ?

    It's all very nice to heartache over populations that cannot afford a mobile phone, but I think they probably have more pressing problems - like how to get something to eat for lunch, or (in some cases) how to not get shot before dinner.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: "thoughtful approaches towards meaningful universal connectivity"

      Lunch isn't lunch unless it's Insta'd.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "thoughtful approaches towards meaningful universal connectivity"

      My idea of "meaningful universal connectivity" is getting a few pals around a table for a pint and a chat.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    focus on "thoughtful approaches towards meaningful universal connectivity"

    Managers all over the globe are reading that and muttering "good thinking" to themselves. The rest of us are shouting "Bingo!".

    1. simonlb

      Or how about: focus on "deliver meaningful universal connectivity"?

  3. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    Rural Broadband?

    The reason why rural broadband has never been rolled out is three simple words: Return On Investment (ROI). No company in their right mind is going to spend $500,000 on a fiber optic terminal if at most 10 people are going to use it, whereas in a suburban area you can have upwards of 50, or several hundred in a urban environment. I know people who live in rural areas who still have dialup for internet because the providers flat refuse install the equipment...and this was after said companies received government incentives to do so. So 4G and 5G wireless is quite possibly the only way to go for rural areas to get broadband. Back in the day, broadband was anything faster than dialup. So 384K was considered broadband. Nowadays, if you don't have at least a 3 mbps download, it isn't broadband.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Rural Broadband?

      "So 4G and 5G wireless is quite possibly the only way to go for rural areas to get broadband."

      Or, you know, don't rely on private, for-profit companies to provide important infrastructure.

    2. sebbb

      Re: Rural Broadband?

      In Italy (but not only, however I take this as an exceptional example which was awarded also by UK's regulators) a public network is being built to bring FTTH to rural areas by 2021, it started in 2014 and there are already customers active on 1G/300M. Major cities were already covered in the past years by private investment (actually Milano had FTTH in 2001... 10M/10M). The network will be operated by any operator that wants to rent a line and provide service and it will generate revenue for the state. Ah but wait, those were EU funds...

  4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    Are these guys

    Consultants in the Use of New Technological Systems?

  5. sbt Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    You pay for it one way or another.

    It's entirely appropriate to consider affordability as well as performance. Whether the government subsidises the roll-out with your taxes or you pay on the monthly bill, inefficient, over-built or gold plated utility roll-outs reduce the public sphere when so much of people's lives and opportunities to participate are on-line.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Having 3G/4G as your only means of achieving broadband connections means that telcos need to start offering more data on mobile plans for the same costs they do now.

    Many pay as you go plans still only offer 2 -5 gig of data for around £15 a month, yet I can get ADSL broadband with 'unlimited' data for around the same price.

    Apps are using more and more data yet the telcos are still offering the same levels of data plans as there were 5 years ago.

  7. Ragarath

    </p>Mobile broadband should in principle be easier to roll out, and it is getting better, quickly<p>

    Are we inventing new spectrum. Or have we found subspace already? It may make it easier to start but as soon as there is any reasonable uptake aren't we (or the third party state) going to be having spectrum issues?

  8. HildyJ Silver badge

    Or do it Huawei

    Bold prediction based on absolutely no knowledge: China's Africa initiative will be expanded to offer countries 5g broadband installed using Chinese loans and grants, Chinese contractors, and Huawei equipment.

  9. Drew Scriver

    No definition of "broadband"?

    Seems to me that this whole UN initiative is a costly, shiny pool of hot air.

    I just read some of the reports. They look great and are available in a lot of languages. However:

    - I can't find a single reference to what constitutes "broadband"

    - The only concern seems to be the cost per Gigabyte of data (per month). Who cares if it takes someone a full month to download that GB?

    Lots and lots of stuff in the plan about equality, economic opportunity, disparity, and so forth. But no actionable definitions as far as I can tell.

    Seems to be similar to the FTC in the USA, which defines speed without addressing data caps.

    Or the US Census, which lumps in 1 Mbps with 1 Gbps fiber.

    Or the notion that if broadband is offered at a single address in a US Census area that entire area is considered to have access to broadband.

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