[20-Minute Lightning Session]
In order to enable a more inclusive Internet we need to address the problem of affordability which is particularly acute for low-income, rural, and female populations. However, a major challenge to achieving affordable, universal access is that the current definition of affordability does not give us an accurate picture of the true cost of access across the globe. In 2011, the UN Broadband Commission put forward what is now the de facto definition of “affordable Internet”: the price of an entry-level broadband plan should be less than 5% of monthly average national income (i.e., GNI per capita). Analysis from A4AI’s 2015/16 Affordability Report
revealed that at this level, broadband prices in many countries appear to be affordable, when, in fact, they are too expensive for a significant portion of the population. In many of the countries that have achieved the 5% target, entry-level broadband (500MB) is still too expensive for at least the bottom 20% of income earners in the country and often remains out of reach for all those except the top group of income earners.
In addition, research from the Web Foundation
shows that those countries that have the highest Internet costs (as a proportion of average income) not only have the lowest numbers of women online, but also the largest gender gaps in Internet use. Thus, we need to rethink how we measure and define affordability as this has direct implications for policies that can ultimately bringing more diverse populations online.