International Broadband Commission Examines Penetration in Four Countries

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, inpartnership with ITU, has 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 U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

The case studies, which cover the Former Yugoslav Republic of 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.

TFYR Macedonia has broadband penetration rate of 32 percent. 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-neighbor 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 percent of average monthly income—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, analysis of a structural economic model for 2000-10 indicates that fixed broadband contributes an 0.44 percent of GDP annually, with the indirect effects of fixed broadband use estimated to have contributed almost 9.6 percent of total national economic growth. Accelerating take-up means that this impact has now almost doubled to reach 0.82 percent of annual GDP, and contributed 11.3 percent 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 percent to GDP, representing 6.9 percent 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 percent of GDP, representing 7.3 percent of total economic growth over the decade.