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UN welcomes call for universal broadband as a 'basic human right'

Jenny Williams

An International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report calling for the rapid deployment of mobile broadband worldwide has been welcomed by the UN Foundation, which hopes to "improve health outcomes at the furthest reaches of wireless networks".

Access to high-speed broadband should be a basic human right, according to the ITU. Its report, titled "The Future Built on Broadband", urged leaders to replicate the "mobile miracle" of the first decade of the century with a "broadband boom" to provide shared high-speed resources that are accessible and beneficial to all.

Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation, supported the report, and said in a statement, "The United Nations Foundation welcomes the release of this report looking at the power of modern information and communications technologies to accelerate progress toward reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals. We need innovative new solutions to tackle persistent global challenges."

Calvin said 90% of the world's population will soon be within the coverage of wireless networks. The five billion global mobile subscriptions can help advance key development indicators, in areas such as maternal and child health.

"In many parts of the world, villages may not have running water or even electricity, but chances are at least one person has access to a mobile phone. As the mobile broadband internet spreads through low and middle income communities, the potential development benefits will only continue to grow," said Calvin.

The ITU told world leaders that access to high-speed broadband should be a basic human right, at the UN's Millennium Development Goals conference in New York on Sunday.

The ITU commission's report offered a detailed framework for broadband deployment and 10 action points for policy makers.


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