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Broadband access 'a human right'
Source: publictechnology.net
Source Date: Monday, September 06, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Created: Sep 07, 2010

Just-released UN data provides a powerful picture on global disparities regarding access to fast Internet and also confirm the UK is in line with equivalent economies when it comes to such access.

The global body says the figures underline the need to rapidly improve access to broadband to improve life chances around the world.

Here, monthly fixed-line broadband subscriptions in the UK cost just 0.63% of the average monthly income, compared with 0.5%, 1% and 1.2% in the US, France and Germany respectively, while fixed line broadband penetration stands at 30 out of every 100 homes compared with 27, 31 and 30% in the same three countries.

In developed countries like the UK around 30% of the public can get access to broadband at less than 1% of their income – while in the Third World that's more like 1% and access costs of greater than total average monthly income.

The figures were compiled by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) , which is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues.

It has found the The Central African Republic is the most expensive place on Earth currently to get a fixed broadband connection – as it will set a citizen back the equivalent of 40 times average monthly income.

Perhaps surprisingly it's in one of China's more developed area – the former Portuguese colony of Macao – that is the world's cheapest, at 0.3% average monthly income.

"Access to broadband in an affordable manner is our greatest challenge," its general secretary, Dr Hamadoun Toure, told the BBC.

Access to communications technology is a part of key targets for global attempts to eradicate poverty and could be used to develop e-health and e-education programmes, it says.

The ITU also estimates that there are currently 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world, though many people have more than one device.

"Access to broadband - access to information - should be a universal human right," added Toure.
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