As developing countries continue to deliberate ways to reduce the cost of internet; bringing more people online, A4AI shares some ways in which internet can be made affordable.
This is part of the recommendations at the last A4AI coalition event held in Nigeria on Tuesday.
1: Develop broadband plans and strategies
National broadband plans allow for increased private investment. It removes barriers to infrastructure deployment and encourage public-private partnerships. A4AI’s 2014 research proved a statistical link between having an effective broadband plan and lower broadband costs.
For a country like Nigeria, with its 5 year Broadband plan, A4AI recommends a focus on delivery, monitoring and evaluation.
2: Encourage infrastructure sharing
Infrastructure comes at a high cost, but a country needs them in abundance to increase internet reach and efficiency. Countries can connect everyone affordably by incentivising development of ICT infrastructures that ensures operators share infrastructures like towers, base stations and cables. Mobile operators could save over $8 billion by doing this, according to a Delta Partners 2009 research.
3: Enhance competition
A healthy competitive market typically drives prices down, and having a range of providers gives people power to pick the plan that suits them. When Myanmar liberalized its ICT, the price of a SIM card fell from $150 in 2013 to $1.5 as at 2015.
4: Review taxation
It’s not uncommon for PCs to be taxed as luxury items in developing countries – subject to high import duties. Changing this can drive down prices of computers and encourage more companies to come to the market.
5: Measure and adapt
There is a dearth of data in developing countries on people using the internet. It’s impossible to manage what we don’t measure. Better data on how people are using the internet will give a clearer scope of user patterns and can allow the government change its approach to increasing access if necessary.
All policy options listed are recommendations from A4AI, the world’s largest technology sector coalition championing efforts to drive down the cost of access to internet.