Effect of Open International Gateways on the Broadband Connectivity Market

Effect of Open International Gateways on the Broadband Connectivity Market

Date: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Type: 
Working paper series
Abstract

Information and communications technology (ICT) has been the driving force behind game-changing innovations and socioeconomic transformations, which are shaping our economy and society at multiple levels. New technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence, have been transforming the manufacturing and service sectors, and have ushered a plethora of innovations, which are changing the way people interact, work and live. ICT-enabled financial infrastructure, smart grids, disaster risk management, intelligent transport system and trade facilitation are just some of the examples that have become the critical backbone of our economy and society, built on the extensive, ubiquitous and seamless broadband connectivity. At another level, ICT plays a catalytic role in modernizing government services, and enhancing the quality of interactions with businesses and citizens, while enabling a whole range of socioeconomic applications and services. In this context, ICT has been increasingly recognized as an indispensable development enabler that contributes to and accelerates the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In particular, broadband infrastructure development has gained global attention for its unique role in promoting universal, sustainable, ubiquitous and meaningful access to ICTs and associated socioeconomic benefits. Despite the potential, however, the digital divide— measured by fixed broadband subscription—is evidenced as widening between developed and developing countries, in particular low-income countries in Asia and the Pacific. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), 20 countries in the region have not made progress in expanding fixed broadband in the past 15 years. An intensified fixed broadband concentration in East Asia also demonstrated a significant sub-regional broadband divide.

Against this background, this working paper aims to examine the effect of open international gateways on broadband connectivity markets, for the ultimate objective of increasing affordability, availability and resilience of broadband networks in the region. International gateways provide access to international terrestrial, submarine and satellite systems and manage incoming and outgoing international voice and data traffic. Considering the fact that international gateways establish interconnections between domestic and international networks and determine the affordability of broadband access, an enabling regulation on international gateways is an essential instrument in increasing broadband affordability and expanding access. International gateways also play a critical role in addressing potential bottlenecks in data traffic that can have significant repercussions on downstream national markets.

This working paper has been written in support of the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS), a regional broadband connectivity initiative. It aims to be a catalyst to develop seamless regional broadband networks, improve their affordability, reliance, resilience and coverage, and thereby narrow the broadband divide in the region. By developing an enabling Internet ecosystem, the initiative will stimulate the development of the digital economy and help accelerate the achievement of SDGs. The findings and recommendations emanating from this report will contribute to the AP-IS implementation in the area of developing physical ICT infrastructure, and improving Internet traffic and network management.

It is hoped that these findings will stimulate discussions among policy- and decision-makers, private sector, academia and think tanks on how regional broadband connectivity could be shaped to achieve inclusive broadband and develop digital economy for the achievement of SDGs. Subsequently, it is anticipated that concrete policy and regulatory updates, financing and investment requirements, and implementation modalities would emerge from the discussions and pave the way to realize the vision of the AP-IS.

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