GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — The digital divide separating the developed and developing internet world needs to close the access gap and ensure increased forward-looking internet access by looking at different financing models, said a new World Economic Forum (WEF) report.
There is a disconnect between the exponential growth of internet use, infrastructure demands of next-generation technologies and current financing models, said Financing a Forward-Looking Internet for All, part of WEF’s Internet for All project.
The report cited Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union as saying, “Redesigning business models to reflect the rapid evolution in technologies is vital to providing connectivity to over half the world’s population, who do not currently have regular internet connectivity.”
To connect those unconnected around the world to the internet is only a first step towards ensuring that all societies participate in an increasingly digital world economy.
Best-connected users have 200 times greater internet capacity than do users in parts of Africa and Asia.
By 2040, closing the connectivity gap will require 1 trillion U.S. dollar of investment.
Closing that gap is not a matter of technology, says WEF.
“The technical solutions are available and time-tested. What’s needed to help countries improve their internet infrastructure are new sources of financing and various types of financing models.”
The recent report was produced in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group and provides countries and companies with a framework for emerging internet inclusion issues.
“The current financial models, which rely primarily on investment by network operators based on company-by-company business cases, are overly narrow in scope and increasingly outdated,” says the report.
The report also examines cybersecurity, noting that just as critical as “data at rest” from an overall perspective on threat is the security of “data in motion.”
Protecting data as it travels over networks requires a consideration of three aspects of cybersecurity: data confidentiality, data integrity, and network and device security.
“If all three aspects are not addressed, trust in online services — whether social media, cloud services, online banking, video conferencing or ordinary email — will be undermined, discouraging investment in new infrastructure and new services,” it said.