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ITU's Broadband Commission Studies Impact of Broadband Growth on Economies

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The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, in partnership with ITU, has today released its first country case studies looking in depth at the state of broadband development in four economies and examining links between broadband and the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The case studies, which cover Macedonia, Panama, the Philippines, and Romania, look at the effect of broadband connectivity on economic growth and access to basic services like education and health. They offer regulatory guidance and best practices, showcasing success stories and lessons learned.

Romania and Macedonia both provide strong examples of how adopting pro-ICT policies, establishing effective regulatory frameworks and developing strategic private and public partnerships can play a key role in boosting broadband access, affordability and demand.

A nation with a strong commitment to connectivity as a driver of national growth, Macedonia already boasts an impressive broadband penetration rate of 32%. Internet access in schools and Wi-Fi-based public Internet access points have been rolled out throughout the country, including remote areas. Schools now offer one Web-enabled computer for every 1.45 children, while university students and academics can freely access knowledge and research resources via the academic network MARnet.

Meanwhile, near-neighbour Romania ranks among the top countries in the world for broadband speed, and scores well for affordability too. The average cost of a baseline monthly broadband subscription represents less than 5% of average monthly income - well within the global targets established by the Broadband Commission last October. Public access is promoted through initiatives like 'Biblionet', which was launched in 2009 and which provides free library-based access through some 795 public libraries equipped with 3,318 computers.

Case studies on Panama and the Philippines, meanwhile, explore the impact of broadband on the economy and on job creation. Both studies evaluate the development of e-applications in the areas of education, public health, media and government services - all of which can help further stimulate broadband adoption.

In Panama, fixed broadband is having a significant economic impact. Analysis of a structural econometric model for the period 2000-2010 indicates that fixed broadband now contributes an annual 0.44% of GDP, with the indirect effects of fixed broadband use estimated to have contributed almost 9.6% of total national economic growth. Accelerating take-up means that this impact has now almost doubled to reach 0.82% of annual GDP, and contributed 11.3% of all economic growth over the decade.

In the Philippines' case study, analysis over the same 10-year period indicates that mobile broadband adoption has contributed an annual 0.32% to GDP, representing 6.9% of total GDP growth for the economy over the past decade. Given the acceleration of mobile broadband penetration since 2005, this impact has also now almost doubled, reaching 0.61% of GDP, representing 7.3% of total economic growth over the decade.

The new case studies were launched during a special side event held during the WSIS Forum 2012 event, which is taking place in Geneva this week (14-18 May).

Speaking after the launch, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré noted that "It is now time to ensure that everyone - wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances - has access to the benefits of broadband. This is not just about delivering connectivity for connectivity's sake, or even about giving people access to the undoubted benefits of social communications. It is about leveraging the power of broadband technologies, and especially mobile technologies, to make the world a better place."

Download the full set of case studies at: www.broadbandcommission.org/work/documents/case-studies.aspx

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Tags: itu  Macedonia  Philippines  Romania  Panama