Nº 2 2010 > Editorial
Building on broadband
Dr Hamadoun I. Touré
The year 2010 marks the beginning of what must become the decade of broadband. To achieve this requires every country to build its social and economic development on broadband. So, just like transport, energy and water supply systems, we must look at broadband networks as basic national infrastructure. Those who build broadband networks now will have the ability to better manage health care for their ageing or isolated populations, deliver the best possible education to future generations, control and use energy supplies more efficiently and take better care of our planet. They will also be able to meet the Millennium Development Goals more quickly.
This is why ITU has launched its “Build on Broadband” initiative. I call on all our Member States and Sector Members to promote broadband. Countries which had a vision and the political will to bring broadband to their people ten years ago are already delivering essential services, such as e‑health, e‑education, e‑commerce and e‑government.
I believe that we can replicate the mobile miracle in broadband. ITU statistics show that mobile phone subscriptions reached an estimated 4.6 billion worldwide at the end of 2009, and are expected to rise to 5 billion in 2010. Even during an economic crisis, demand for communication services has remained steady. I am confident that we will continue to see rapid growth in mobile services, with many more people using their phones to access the Internet. ITU expects to see the number of mobile broadband subscriptions exceed 1 billion worldwide during 2010, having reached 600 million at the end of 2009.
Embracing broadband development will help drive growth and deliver benefits right across society, as well as across every industrial sector. For this to happen, there must be a sound policy and regulatory framework, a clear vision at the highest level of government that should result in a clear national plan for the deployment of broadband infrastructure.
Today, broadband is the engine for creating new jobs, for enhancing skills for greater innovation, for spreading knowledge and for sustainable development through the provision of e‑health, e‑banking, m‑banking, e‑education, e‑agriculture, and other e‑applications on the horizon. Access to these services must be affordable, equitable and available to all citizens, wherever they live.
With governments working in partnership with the private sector and civil society, nations can effectively build their future on broadband. Let us start by making 2010–2020 the decade of broadband.