As the theme of the 2015 Internet Governance Forum recognizes, one of the central problems confronting the world is increasing the number of people connected to the Internet. According to estimates, only 3.1 billion of the 7.3 billion world inhabitants were connected to the Internet as of July 2015. The adoption problem is particularly acute in Africa and Asia, where adoption rates continue to lag behind the global average. Of equal concern are the facts that in recent years, the growth rate of Internet users has started to flatten and that women and other segments of the population are often excluded from Internet connectivity.
The IGF has already begun to identify new strategies for connecting the next billion as part of its intercessional work. The IGF would benefit from a Dynamic Coalition that would consolidate, extend, and share this work by collecting and disseminating information about practices that have proven effective in improving broadband adoption. It is a task to which a multistakeholder forum like the IGF, which brings together representatives from such a broad range of communties and countries, is uniquely well suited.
The basic approach is to establish research points of contact globally to continue the intersessional work conducted this year. The information will be consolidated into a webpage containing key research, statistics, and case studies. The research would also be supported by events to help disseminate the information. Proposed study topics include:
- Pulling together the best scholarly work quantifying the benefits created by Internet adoption. This will consist of a literature review of the research exploring how much broadband adoption contributes to GDP and variations in how people in different regions are using the Internet.
- Identifying, analyzing, and sharing innovative technological and business practices for connecting new communities (supply side). This part of the project will identify and analyze creative initiatives for increasing connectivity and provide a showcase for the most innovative and successful efforts. Data will be collected about each effort that will permit an analysis of their cost effectiveness.
- Identifying reasons that individuals are not adopting and find innovative strategies to reach them (demand side). Surveys in both the developing and the developed world show that more than half of nonadopters do not see the relevance and value of an Internet connection. The project will gather together the public and private initiatives undertaken to deploy locally relevant content, e-government, e-health, and other services that validate the value of an Internet connection as well as computer literacy and other programs designed to eliminate obstacles to adoption. This aspect of the program would pay particular focus on women and other segments of the population often excluded from Internet connectivity.
- Identifying compelling personal stories highlighting the benefits of connectivity. The events surrounding this program should provide an ideal showcase for making the benefits real.
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The research will be led by Christopher Yoo (University of Pennsylvania), Michael Kende (Internet Society), Helani Galpaya (LIRNEasia), and Rajan Mathews (Cellular Operators Association of India), with the support of a broad-based multistakeholder group including civil society, governments, the technical community, and an industry group spanning entire range of the Internet ecosystem. The research will also be supported by a website. The project will also organize a series of panels at next year’s IGF to showcase the progress to date. The project may also organize intersessional events around the world to raise awareness and to showcase efforts.
- IGF 2018 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Session Report
- IGF 2018 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Paper on the SDGs
- IGF 2017 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Session Report
- IGF 2017 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Substantive Paper
- IGF 2016 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Session Report
- IGF 2016 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Session Description
- IGF 2016 DC-Connecting the Unconnected Substantive Paper
- DC-Connecting the Unconnected Activities Report - 2016
Sharada Srinivasan – sharadas[at]law.upenn.edu