Broadband technologies are driving substantial transformation in several sectors, including health, education, financial inclusion and the environment, making them a key accelerator towards achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says The State of Broadband 2018: Broadband Catalyzing Sustainable Development report released by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
The report was released ahead of the Commission’s fall meeting in New York City on 23 September, during the UN General Assembly meeting on 18 to 30 September 2018, also in New York.
According to State of Broadband 2018 report, although a majority of the world’s population (52% or 3.7 billion) currently remain unconnected, the number of total Internet users continues to grow strongly, with annual Internet growth rates above 5%.
The report predicts that there will be nearly 4.4 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions globally by end 2018, showcasing the potential for expanding the reach of the mobile digital economy.
Working hand-in-hand with governments and other stakeholders, Ooredoo is committed to continue its delivery of universal and affordable broadband services to developing regions and nations. Ooredoo’s sustained investments in infrastructure and innovation aims to bridge the digital divide and change lives for the better around the world.
H.E. Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, Group CEO, Ooredoo, commented that: “The report shines light on the crucial role of broadband connectivity in advancing sustainable development. At Ooredoo, we continue to invest in next-generation technologies, people and resources that enable our communities – in particular underserved women and youth – to improve their lives and achieve their full potential. As we deploy the power of digital technology to give people access to the services and support they need, we urge governments, operators and regulators to continue working closely together to address the deepening digital inequality in global connectivity.”
The report has found that 48% of the global population is now online but there are still some 3.7 billion people who do not have Internet access. While it recognizes the strong growth in broadband markets that is being accompanied by rapid technological innovation, it also raises concerns for the growing inequalities in access to broadband that exist between developed and developing countries.
Emphasizing the importance of building an inclusive digital society that is accessible by all, the Commission outlines “4 I’s” – Infrastructure, Investment, Innovation and Inclusivity – which are central to the Commission’s strategy of expanding access to broadband and helping accelerate the achievement of all United Nations’ SDGs.
Ooredoo’s commitment to reduce digital inequality stems from its core mission to make the Internet accessible and enjoyable for everyone. This is highlighted within the report through key examples of Ooredoo’s efforts to harness broadband for sustainable development, such as:
•Ooredoo Maldives M-Faisaa, a mobile money solution that is improving financial inclusion in the geographically dispersed nation by enabling customers to deposit, withdraw, pay and send money in the Maldives instantly through their phones.
•Ooredoo Myanmar’s M-Pitesan, a mobile money service that is playing a critical role in enabling underserved communities to access financial services, as 70% of Myanmar’s rural population remains unbanked. The service supports over-the-counter cash transfers between mobile money agents and allows customers to store and transfer money as well as buy airtime, pay bills and purchase tickets.
Delivery of this commitment rests on Ooredoo maintaining cutting-edge mobile technologies across its global footprint. Ooredoo’s investment is recognised in the report, which highlights its advancement toward 5G and collaboration with Nokia on early 5G trials in Qatar.
Ooredoo has invested heavily in rolling out the next generation technology to deliver superior mobile experiences for its customers and ensure that Qatar is at the forefront of 5G developments and the 5G ecosystem.
Ooredoo also continues to invest in advanced networks across its portfolio, with its network modernisation programme bringing 4G and 4G+ services to customers in eight of its 10 markets. Also highlighted in the report is Ooredoo Oman’s achievement of expanding its LTE network to cover 90 per cent of the country’s population as of mid-2018.
Issued annually, The State of Broadband report is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.