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Taylor highlights solutions to universal access challenge at ITU

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The secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Mr. Shola Taylor, has highlighted key factors that must be considered by policymakers to extend access to ICTs to the billions of unconnected people around the world.

It is estimated that over two billion people worldwide are yet to access the Internet, and for Taylor, three factors are critical to bridging this gap and achieve universal access.

They include policy formulation, investment, and spectrum planning.

He said, policy formulation remains the most important factor in reaching out to the unconnected, and governments must assess access gaps and formulate clear connectivity objectives in response. “From a governance perspective, it is our experience at the CTO that policy and lawmakers in our member countries are not always equipped with the necessary information to come up with ICT policies and frameworks relevant and adapted to their national environment. So four times a year, we hold a round table with regulatory board members and commissioners, members of parliaments, investment boards and local governments to appraise them of the issues at stake,” Taylor said.

On Spectrum planning, he argued that better spectrum planning holds part of the solution to the challenge of universal access. “We are all excited about 5G networks, and rightly so. But contrary to spectrum bands being earmarked for 5G networks, spectrum in the 600MHz and 700MHz bands have a far greater potential to reach out to rural and very remote areas where most of the unconnected live,” he said.

He said “Too many governments around the world continue to perceive the ICT sector as “profitable” and use this as a reason not to invest in the sector’s infrastructure. I have to say that those countries that continue to leave it to the private sector to invest in ICT infrastructure may find themselves among the least attractive markets for investors in the long run,” Taylor said.

Based on a report on demand by the Broadband Commission released today, the discussion included the following participants:

For the first time, the CTO also built a Commonwealth stand where the CTO and a dozen of regulatory and other national ICT agencies and institutions from Commonwealth countries are exhibiting their work.

“I am very pleased with the high interest we received from members who wanted to be part of the Commonwealth, and given the success we have had this year, we are now considering a far bigger exhibition space for next year in Busan,” Mr Taylor said.


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