Asia-Pacific rallies around regional Information Superhighway
The creation of the Working Group on the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway had been recommended by member States at the ESCAP’s intergovernmental Committee on ICT and endorsed by the ESCAP Commission.
The working group brought together ICT policy makers from around the Asia-Pacific region, broadband infrastructure experts and representatives of civil society and the private sector with the objective of improving broadband connectivity in Asia and the Pacific.
The Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway, an initiative by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), aims to provide seamless regional connectivity between land and undersea-based ICT infrastructure to increases availability, reliability and affordability of broadband Internet for all.
The working group called on ESCAP
to begin preparing a regional cooperatio framework for the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.
It identified four concrete areas to be emphasised in the framework, where regional cooperation can make a real difference for the people of Asia and the Pacific in improving physical access to broadband.
The working group emphasised the need to act together to upgrade physical broadband infrastructure across the region. Additionally, countries agreed to work together on harmonising Internet traffic management to reduce the number of costly inefficiencies in the way data is routed within and between countries of the region.
Also, they agreed that regional dialogue and concerted actions can yield Internet transmission networks that are more robust and resilient to natural disasters given its importance in disaster management.
Lastly, the working group recognised that regional cooperation could help ESCAP countries to provide a more inclusive access to broadband Internet by promoting partnerships and good-practices to deliver broadband access in underserved areas.
As an enabling infrastructure and a potent stimulant for economic activity and innovation, broadband Internet holds great promise for accelerating socioeconomic development.
However, according to Ms. Shamika Sirimanne, the Director of the ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of ESCAP, “Asia and the Pacific is the most digitally divided region in the world. Only 6 per cent of the population living in developing countries in the region is connected to fixed broadband Internet.”
ESCAP research has consistently demonstrated that as with other infrastructure areas such as road and rail transport, active cross-country cooperation is required to ensure coherent and efficient connectivity in ICT infrastructure.
The Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative is based on this recognition that effective regional cooperation in broadband networks can yield lower prices and faster, reliable internet connectivity than the sum of individual countries’ efforts. ■