What’s needed to provide worldwide connectivity by 2030?
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What’s needed to provide worldwide connectivity by 2030?

Currently, more than 4.9 billion people in the world have Internet connection, representing more than 60% of the world’s population. In many cases, however, this connectivity is unreliable, either because it is too slow or too expensive, or both. 

In the realm of World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (May 17), the aspiration to achieve an effective universal connectivity becomes more evident than ever. 

Indeed, the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy for Technology, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), have announced a new set of UN goals that aim to achieve universal and effective connectivity by 2030. 

These goals prioritize universality, technology, and accessibility, so that everyone can fully benefit from connectivity.  However, as ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao noted, “Universal connectivity alone is not enough to achieve Sustainable Development Goals[1]”. 

In the world today, more than 4.9 billion people have Internet connection, which represents more than 60% of the world’s population.  However, in many cases this connectivity is unreliable, either because it is too slow, too expensive, or both.  

This deficiency makes users share devices, or, in some cases, they simply can’t take full advantage of the potential presented by smart TVs, smartphones, wearables, personal computers, or any digital service they might wish to subscribe to, whether for business or entertainment purposes. 

This reality forces us to focus on the qualitative dimension of the challenge represented by achieving universal and effective digital connectivity and understand that bringing connections to every corner isn’t enough; rather, they must be fast, robust, stable, and secure. 

By 2030, ITU objectives determine broadband connections should be greater than 10 Mb/s. For schools, these should be at least 20 Mb/s. And while technical capacity currently allows us to have fiber optic connections with speeds starting at 300 Mb/s, we are clearly reducing the gaps in terms of quality, which means that our efforts in the telecommunications industry must focus on the territorial expansion of technological infrastructure, from connecting isolated or hard-to-reach geographical areas to increasing the capillarity of connection points in urban centers. 

In addition, connections must become increasingly accessible to all.  The United Nations Broadband Commission proposes that the monthly cost of basic broadband services should be less than 2% of the monthly per capita income.  As a second step in this affordability goal, the costs for an Internet connection with minimum quality standards should not exceed 2% of the average income of 40% of the population with the lowest income. 

Fortunately, telecommunications providers generally have the technical and commercial ability to offer their customers increasingly better technologies, more access, and more attractive prices, showing that the progress toward more affordable connections for everyone is clearly an ongoing process. 

Achieving effective universal connectivity by 2030 is the ultimate challenge, therefore it is essential to steer our work toward achieving this goal, contributing to the progress of our societies.

[1] https://www.itu.int/es/mediacentre/Pages/PR-2022-04-19-UN-targets-universal-meaningful-connectivity.aspx 

Leonardo Barbero
Senior Vice-President, Product, Access Management & Network Planning



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