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2019

According to a news report by Times of India, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have proposed to provide people in rural India with access to broadband services through cable television networks. This is in line with the effort by the government to boost rural connectivity.

The proposal was relayed in a meeting by the ministry and TRAI with service providers in mid-December. TRAI Chairman, Mr Ram Sewak Sharma cited an example of how the solution has been implemented in South Korea. Describing how the transition to broadband will happen, Sharma said that there will be a simple migration at the consumer’s end using a new set-top box whereas the configurations at the service provider’s end will be facilitated by the engineering arm of the ministry.  

According to the 2011 India census, rural India with an estimated population of 918 million, has only 186 million Internet users leaving out 732 million potential users.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered mobile operators to shut down mobile Internet services leading up to a national election. On 27 December, 3G and 4G mobile Internet services were shut down, followed by a shutdown of 2G mobile Internet on 29 December. Mobile Internet services were restored on 30 December at 18.00 local time, after the voting finished. Another shutdown of 3G and 4G mobile Internet occurred on 30 December at 21.00 local time. The services were resumed on 1 January at 10.00 local time, according to a spokesperson with the BTRC.

2018

Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has published a new research report titled Improving Mobile Broadband Quality of Service in Low Middle Income Countries, which examines the quality of internet service on offer across the Global South.The report provides the first set of public available data on upload and download speeds in low-and-middle-income countries.

The report finds that significant disparities exist between the broadband speeds found in the Global North and the Global South, with the median download speed for a user in Africa less than a seventh of the speed available to a user in Western Europe. Featuring insights from Bangladesh, Colombia, Mozambique and Peru, the report outlines a set of recommendations for improving quality of service. Further analysis of the report can be found here.

Re:publica, Europe’s largest conference on the topics of Internet and digital society has successfully concluded its first ever conference Africa in Accra, Ghana dubbed Re:publica Accra. The 2-day conference which took place on the 14-15 December 2018 was organized in collaboration with Impact Hub Accra with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Corporation and Development (BMZ). The conference discussed issues on such topics as Net Neutrality, Data Protection, Civil Rights and other digital and societal issues bothering on ‘Access’, ‘Gender’, ‘Waste’, ‘Future’, ‘Tech for Good’ among others.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken further steps to expand the reach of high-speed Internet across the rural regions of the country. Using increased funding of the Connect America Fund, the FCC hopes that broadband deployment will increase and service costs will be more economical. The FCC expects service providers to make faster service available as a result of the increased funding.

The World Economic Forum released its publication Our Shared Digital Future Building an Inclusive, Trustworthy and Sustainable Digital Society that was produced in collaboration with leaders from business, government, academia and civil society. The paper aimed at shaping an agenda to move towards a more inclusive, trustworthy, and sustainable digital future in six shared goals that include universal internet access and adoption, digital transformation, digital identity, governance, cyber resilience, and data. The document reinforces the importance of addressing the digital divide through approaches that go beyond digital access to include digital literacy, digital identity, and a new social contract that allows all classes of society to benefit from the digital economy. Additionally, the paper outlines some digital initiatives and provides common frame around which initiatives can focus and become mutually reinforcing. It further posits a raft of open questions to form the discourse in different forums in 2019.

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