High Quality Broadband Access
Increasingly, the economic and social benefits of broadband connectivity for development are becoming evident. On the economic side, the World Bank estimates that every 10% increase in broadband penetration can yield an increase of as much as 1.4% in GDP growth. It is clear as well that broadband Internet has even greater potential impact than voice connectivity alone. But the impacts of broadband are not merely economic.
As recent events in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate, the Internet, and broadband in particular, can be a power force for social change, fostering greater social inclusion, civic participation and political transparency, not to it is critical for delivery of improved education, healthcare, relief, and more. The debate among policymakers has now shifted from whether to promote broadband access to the question of how to do so most effectively.
Just 9.6% of the total population in Africa has access to the Internet. This is less than 1/5th and 1/6th of the rate in the Americas and Europe, respectively. But this statistic does not convey the real situation in the world’s poorest countries. Of Africa’s 48 sub-‐Saharan countries, 29 (60%) have total Internet usage rates (at any speed) of less than 3%, and 15 (31%) show less than 1%. Broadband access rates are far lower still. And the cost can be 100 or more times greater.
Therefore, while wireless broadband has exploded in much of the world, as the ITU’s 2009 report points out, there remains “a dramatic broadband divide, with very few fixed broadband subscribers or mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa.”
Inveneo believes that closing the broadband gap will require new, collaborative and low-cost broadband service delivery models. Moreover, we believe that the essential components of such a model already exist; what’s needed is a well – conceived and coordinated effort to bring them together in a functioning service delivery framework.
Broadband for Good™
This is why Inveneo is leading Broadband for Good™, an innovative new approach to accelerating access in under-served areas around the world by partnering with global organizations and local service providers, building local entrepreneurial capacity and working and identifying radically lower cost connectivity designs to implement region specific demonstrations that can catalyze profitable models that service provider can adopt and scale.
Under Broadband for Good, Inveneo is participating in, driving and in some cases partially funding demonstration projects in different regions around the world. These projects will be implemented over the next 3 years using a multi-stakeholder and regional approach.
Also, using our Broadband for Good, Inveneo and our local partners can design project-specific rural networks/approaches for connecting schools, clinics, humanitarian agencies and other regionally disparate locations. These networks can enable better access to high quality broadband by extending broadband from regional cities and they can lower overall costs by connecting the locations to each other so they can communicate on their own network and then aggregate their purchase for Internet as one organization.
As part of the program’s toolkit, BB4G intends to facilitate development of both network management and customer provisioning software to support our NGO/enterprise and individual client broadband services. These will be part of a suite of cloud-based operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) services, including:
- Support for multiple carriers/resellers on the same network with privacy management, separate accounting and reporting;
- Product ordering, both pre-paid and post-paid, supporting scratch card and SMS purchases, invoicing and detailed billing.
- Bandwidth shaping on an individual session or user basis
- Network congestion management;
- Customized splash web pages to tailor for carrier selected or access point location.
The BB4G team will call upon its telecoms expertise in order to design truly innovative tools for the initiative. We are actively engaging in dialogues with many organizations – about needs, and potential tools for open source and shared low cost OSS/BSS infrastructure.
Framework and Process Development
A core component of the Broadband for Good initiative is to deliver a comprehensive framework for project deployments so that our experience can become a practice, repeatable by Inveneo and our partners and ultimately the telecommunications community at large.
Depending upon the specifics of the potential project, the Rural Broadband Framework methodology and BB4G modeling tool will produce a plan with components relevant to that country and region, including (for example) identification of anchor tenants, telecom policy approaches, open access and shared asset options, technical solution sets, network administration and monitoring systems plug-ins, local entrepreneur identification and training processes, business models and sales marketing templates. We are developing the replicable framework for use in our demonstration projects later this year and with a plan to release to the community at large in 2013.
Continued Program Development
Inveneo’s goal is to deliver the Broadband for Good initiative as a three-year program with an estimated budget of $5 Million. At the completion of the program, the goal is to have three viable demonstration projects – but we anticipate having many more – and the tools and framework to bring these and many more to regional and national scale.
To date, Inveneo has received nearly half of the total budget from generous supporters that include Google, Cisco, the Orr Foundation and Craig Newmark. (Thank you!)
We aim to build support for the core and demonstration project program through engaging new organizations that are committed to accelerating social and economic impact through technology. We are seeking additional support from foundations, corporations, bilateral and multilaterals organizations and local governments with interest in funding the core concept, technical solutions and/or country level demonstration projects.
If would want more information or would like to participate as a partner in Broadband for Good, please connect with us now.