Policy and Regulatory Gap Analysis

4.1 Remaining gaps in fulfilling the State of Broadband recommendations

While countries are progressing along the ICT Regulatory Tracker and improving their overall level of ICT regulatory policy, at the individual level there is still much progress to be made on specific issues. Below are examples of where actions are still required to fulfil some of the 166 recommendations from 2012 to 2018.

4.2 ICT policy and regulatory regimes

The largest group of recommendations from past reports focused on generalized ICT policy and regulatory reform. The progress that countries are making in the policy generations of the ICT Regulatory Tracker demonstrate the improvements being made. However, there are still 72 countries that are either at a basic level of ICT regulatory policy (Generation 1, with regulated public monopolies, and a command-and-control approach), or reaching nascent progress (Generation 2, with markets starting to open, partially liberate and some privatization across layers).

4.3 Improving data, statistics and monitoring of progress

Over the past five years, a plethora of reports and data trackers focusing on global broadband connectivity have emerged (see for instance the running list tracked by Steve Song’s Global Connectivity Index and Connectivity Reports Github page).3 However, while more reports and telecommunications adoption data is emerging, there are still significant gaps in the availability and accuracy of timely data that can help to inform policy decisions, commercial investments and consumer choice.

4.4 Improving spectrum allocation and assignment

The largest group of recommendations from past reports focused on generalized ICT policy and regulatory reform. The progress that countries are making in the policy generations of the ICT Regulatory Tracker demonstrate the improvements being made. However, there are still 72 countries that are either at a basic level of ICT regulatory policy (Generation 1, with regulated public monopolies, and a command-and-control approach), or reaching nascent progress (Generation 2, with markets starting to open, partially liberate and some privatization across layers).

4.5 Appropriate taxation of ICT goods and services

Appropriate levels of taxation for ICT/digital goods and services remains a fluid debate. The type of taxes that countries apply to the sector vary widely, and there is no uniform approach. This results in varying service costs and end- user consumer prices. The 2018 Global​ICT​ Regulatory​Outlook identifies at least eight different types of taxes that countries are applying to telecommunication/ICT services.20

4.6 Encouraging greater investment in internet connectivity infrastructure

Because of existing limits to network coverage, and shortfalls of core and middle- mile infrastructure to extend high-speed connectivity to underserved populations, greater capital investment is required to meaningfully connect more people to the internet. In the past, basic calculations of the total capital requirement necessary based
on general assumptions include the 2016 Broadband Commission estimate of USD 450 billion needed to connect 1.5 billion people around the world, at an estimated USD 300 per person.34

4.7 Improving trustworthiness and transparency of digital services

A greater awareness has developed of the potential negative aspects of being online. As noted above, survey data shows that individuals are more and more concerned with how data on them is being used and misused.

4.8 Addressing environmental impacts from the digital economy and leveraging ICTs to tackle climate change

In the 2012 State of Broadband report, the Commission presented recommendation 7.11 “incorporate sustainability principles into ICT regulations and policies.” Part of the impetus for this recommendation came from the 2012 Broadband Commission report, “The Broadband Bridge, linking ICT with climate action for a low carbon economy.” That report examined the role of broadband in efforts to move towards a low-carbon economy, and included recommendations promoting the adoption and delivery of environmentally- focused broadband policies.

4.9 Global efforts to provide broadband connectivity access to the growing number of refugees and internally displaced individuals.

In 2016, the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, released a landmark report, “Connecting Refugees: How Internet and Mobile Connectivity can Improve Refugee Well-Being and Transform Humanitarian Action”, detailing the importance and availability of broadband internet connectivity to the then almost 69 million refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world.66