"In the 21st century, affordable, ubiquitous broadband networks will be as critical to social and economic prosperity as networks like transport, water and power. Not only does broadband deliver benefits across every sector of society, but it also helps promote social and economic development, and will be key in helping us get the Millennium Development Goals back on track."
Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General
Broadband can be viewed both through a technical lens (as a set of advanced networking technologies) or as a driving force for far-reaching and disruptive transformation, revitalizing the delivery of existing services and enabling the birth of innovative new services. In the modern world, broadband has become critical infrastructure, determining countries’ national competiveness in the global digital economy. Broadband is also a tool for advancing our common goal towards inclusive Knowledge Societies, where access to information and human creativity are vital.
As we move towards machine-to-machine communications or ‘The Internet of Things’, broadband networks will facilitate the efficient provision of services in areas including healthcare, education, energy management, transport systems, emergency services and much more.
However, it is not just the high-speed, high-capacity networks — what we know as ‘broadband’ — which matter. In the dawning information age, data is the new currency. Broadband networks now carry data and provide access to innovative new services that can significantly broaden horizons and opportunities for people everywhere. In 2010, the amount of digital information transmitted around the world exceeded a Zettabyte (or 1021 bytes) for the first time. The digital universe now doubles in size every two years, with more data created over the last three years since 2008 than over all the time preceding that.
These are not just abstract binary data, however. Real-life services delivered over broadband networks include more efficient smart grids for electricity, medical records for long-distance diagnosis and educational applications so pupils can learn about their world. Broadband services can help generate genuine improvements in the lives of citizens around the world, including the acceleration of progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Broadband networks are an essential and uniquely powerful tool for achieving those goals and lifting people out of poverty worldwide. Many of these services can now be delivered over wireless or mobile broadband networks, the principal means of access for many people.
To connect everything and everyone in the digital universe, high-speed infrastructure is now vital. Countries around the world must prioritize access to broadband infrastructure or risk exclusion from the information age and emerging digital economy