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Internet Access for Development

image of Internet Access for Development

The Internet has been remarkably successful in developing greater opportunities for communication access - and economic growth and social development - for the first billion users. The majority of the next several billion users will be mainly from developing countries and will connect to the Internet principally via wireless networks. But there are substantial discrepancies in access to ICTs between developed and developing countries and also within countries, depending on factors such as gender, rural coverage, skills and educational levels.

 

This book examines how the market for internet traffic exchange has evolved and explores the coherence of policies pursued by developed and developing countries. It notes the increasing innovation occurring in a number of developing countries with competitive markets and discusses how liberalisation has helped to expand of access networks and make ICT services increasingly affordable and available to the poor. The report also highlights the employment, micro-entrepreneurial and social development opportunities which have emerged as access levels have risen among low-income users. The study notes that gateway service monopolies - still in 70 countries -  raise the prices for accessing international capacity and reduce the affordability of Internet access to business and end users.

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The Importance of Liberalisation

Communication access has undergone tremendous change in recent years, with a great deal of focus on the technological innovations which have accompanied its development. This is understandable, in that technologies such as wireless or fibre optics have dramatically increased capabilities and lowered costs. The role of liberalisation in opening markets to these innovations, however, has only recently been widely accepted. For example, the drive toward introducing fibre optics was created by competition in the long distance telephony market. The rapid development of wireless service, including innovations such as prepaid cards, was driven by competition in mobile communications. The commercial Internet itself is highly unlikely to have emerged in a monopoly environment, let alone have been the source of dynamic innovation it has come to be.

English

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