The dragon of high spectrum costs needs to be slain once and for all
On one thing everyone is agreed. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the essential value of digital connectivity in the modern world, not just for commerce, but for civil society. At the same time, its importance has even more starkly exposed the gaps between the digital haves and have-nots. This was described by Dr Bob Pepper of Facebook, as ‘the paradox of success’, as he introduced a discussion on the latest research on the Inclusive Internet Index (3i) . Running for five years now, the index shows that while there have been improvements in quality, perhaps the most dramatic change is in coverage. According to the GSMA, since 2015 mobile data coverage has increased from 46 to 82 per cent of the world’s population, supported by investment of $270 billion. The research reflects the story told in many IIC debates over the last year: the usage gap (those covered but not connected) is six times greater than the connectivity gap. The goal of internet inclusivity now requires a strategic pivot away from connectivity in favour of usage.