Image: Samar Baba – Leader of the IEEE TAWASOL team in Tunisia – speaks at IGF on the IEEE panel “Shaping the Digital Future”. Watch the video here.
IEEE’s Internet Initiative (3i) organized as one of several IEEE sessions at IGF, a workshop December 17 at the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva: “Towards Universal Access: Educate, Engage and Empower”. The ongoing working groups from IEEE’s Internet Inclusion Advancing Solutions series led discussions on seven topics: Digital Literacy, Public Access, Community Networks, Innovative and Alternative Business and Investment Models, Energy and Connectivity, Evidenced-based Research and Digital Equality. Vint Cert kicked it off with a fascinating question:
If by 2025 the world has Internet for all, what were the key milestones and developments that made this global achievement possible?
Vint pointed out the importance for users and businesses to gain access to the Internet, and underlined that they have real choices about who provides on the availability of that access. Working together to realize the vision, the IEEE working groups are generating actionable insights, and these look set to achieve a shared vision of an Internet for all by the year 2025.
– The steps we can take together to erode some of the cost barriers for gaining online access.
– Communities not able to get access from commercial carriers can develop community networks for Internet access, but these must be designed upfront to be sustainable.
– The 2025 online environment will bring new challenges – we are learning that limiting access to information is not a productive response.
– As the cost of equipment and communications keeps coming down, governments can tackle barriers to universal access by providing policy support for the US eRate for educational institutions and libraries.
– There needs to be a shift in the historic regulatory posture across spectrum management which has traditionally showcased a limited reach, and usage. We need to adopt as much open access to spectrum as possible.
– The widespread provision of energy to enable Internet access, is prerequisite.
– In multistakeholder governance, it is not the size of the stakeholder that matters, but the contribution and impact.
The above describes only one of the sessions that the IEEE led, or participated in, at the Internet Governance Forum.
Mei Lin Fung is grateful for the opportunity to participate as a member of the IEEE Internet Initiative team at IGF.
For a full report by the IEEE on the session with Vint Cerf and the extensive IEEE engagement at IGF.