Creating and facilitating demand for broadband services and products is vital to increase usage, socio-economic benefits, and sufficient revenue for operators and government to continue investment in infrastructure roll-out. Focusing on supply side and infrastructure alone will not drive broadband to scale.

  • There is no one size fits all solution to broadband deployment. Business models, funding and appropriate broadband technology vary across developed and emerging markets, rural and urban regions. Specificities of geography, socio-economic status and computer literacy also determine suitable roll-out models, from high-speed cutting-edge networks to issues of basic connectivity and access to power.
  • Affordable devices to provide access to all socio-economic groups, differentiating between low-cost and high-end models across markets. Devices are as important as the network, in particular wireless devices in emerging markets as first point of contact with Internet.
  • Making broadband locally relevant is key to driving demand: in terms of technology, content and services, language and applications arising from or meeting local and regional business needs. Demand for the Internet is greater than demand for broadband per se.
  • Grow usage of broadband applications in communication, information, education and entertainment to drive costs down. Key verticals to generate content and stimulate operator investment including government services, education and health.
  • Demand is predicted to explode beyond current capacity in the next 5 years – but the balance between providing high-cost infrastructure and ensuring its usage through demand for broadband services is necessary to provide return on investment.
  • The consumer or end-user perspective is more important than traditional industry positions in ensuring sustainability:
    • If infrastructure, services and software are not available or affordable, demand for broadband is “trapped” and consumer enthusiasm passes.
    • Educate with computer literacy programmes from the grass roots up to ensure sufficient users (and revenue) for new infrastructure.
    • Establish end-user trust in the security, reliability and confidentiality of broadband services.
  • Government has a major role in stimulating demand:
    • As an end-user providing better online services at scale in e government, cutting costs and increasing efficiency for consumer and government alike.
    • As a content generator creating awareness and demand with relevant applications and services (also in key verticals such as health, education, energy, transport).
    • Creating trust frameworks, confidence in privacy and quality standards to drive consumer uptake.
    • Focus on establishing connectivity for all to increase demand and then upgrade speed and capacity, rather than going straight for next-generation networks which may not meet current consumer needs.
    • Taxation policies to drive uptake of devices and services, not to throttle success by raising the costs for the end-user through targeting ICT goods and services.
    • Stimulating “trapped” demand through incentives for development of locally-relevant applications, reduced taxes on devices, free internet offices in remote and rural areas.
  • Use unified WiFi access in rural and remote areas to share revenue opportunities with local service providers such as health, education in absence of fixed infrastructure.
  • Bring fibre to the local community or access point and relay to home and local end-users over WiFi – in both emerging and developed markets.
  • Convergence with broadcasting to drive demand as regulations, standards and business models are aligned.