GSMA Joins Alliance Aiming to Lower the Cost of Mobile Broadband In Developing Countries
Published on: 21st Jan 2014
By: Simon Davies
The telecoms trade group the GSMA is joining the Alliance for Affordable Internet A4AI a diverse coalition of over 50 members aiming to driving down the cost of Internet access in developing countries via regulatory and policy reform.
Launched in October 2013, A4AI's primary focus is to support the achievement of the UN Broadband Commission's Broadband Target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5 percent of average monthly income.
The Alliance believes that, while technological solutions are advancing rapidly, policy and regulations remain a significant barrier to affordable Internet. A4AI thus seeks to create the conditions for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets via policy and regulatory reform through a combination of advocacy, research and knowledge-sharing at global, regional and national levels.
Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of the Alliance for Affordable Internet added: "Despite recent falls in prices, mobile broadband remains prohibitively expensive in most developing countries. A4AI's recent affordability report highlighted that for those living on less than US $2 a day, mobile broadband costs in excess of 20 per cent of monthly incomes in many countries, and skyrockets to as much as 48 per cent of income in Colombia, and 35 per cent in Zambia.
While the two organisations' respective positions are aligned, A4AI's principle around using unlicensed spectrum and opportunistic reuse within rules that avoid harmful interference contrasts with the GSMA's position that the use of 'white space' should not jeopardise future reallocation of TV broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband and the economic benefits this would bring.
Alliance members include Alcatel-Lucent, the Association for Progressive Communications, Cisco, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, Ericsson, Facebook, Google, Intel, the Internet Society, Microsoft, the Omidyar Network, Research ICT Africa, the UK DFID, USAID and Yahoo!
In-country work in Ghana and Nigeria will begin in the first quarter of 2014.