Thursday, June 12, 2014

Focus on broadband speed and its significance on development sustainability - Mamun Monzurul Aziz

In today’s society all over the world, accessibility to the Internet, with all its possibilities, is a greatly important part of people’s everyday life. This holds true seen anywhere from an individual’s perspective to large organizations on a macro scale. In order to use common Internet services, a fast connection is essential. Broadband, which is a collection of high-speed techniques for Internet connection, which is still under constant development, is a very indispensable focus now a day.

In very common classification BROADBAND technology is a high-speed Internet connection, which is always available and has a minimum speed of 256 kbit/s (kilobit per second). However, since broadband technologies are always changing, the definition of broadband also continues to evolve. Today, the term broadband typically describes recent Internet connections that range from 5 times to 2000 times faster than earlier Internet dial-up technologies. However, the term broadband does not refer to either a certain speed or a specific service. Broadband combines connection capacity (bandwidth) and speed. Recommendation I.113 of the ITU Standardization Sector defines broadband as a “transmission capacity that is faster than primary rate Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) at 1.5 or 2.0 Megabits per second (Mbits)”.

Figure 1: Internet User Penetration, 2000-2015 (Source: ITU)
 Broadband has three main benefits, such as- (1) Broadband speeds are significantly faster than previous technologies, making it faster and more convenient to access information or conduct online transactions using the Internet. The speed of broadband service has also enhanced existing services, such as online gaming, and enabled new applications, such as downloading music and videos. (2) Depending on the type of technology deployed, there can be economic gains associated with broadband. For example, with DSL, users can use a single standard phone line for both voice and data services. (3) Broadband enhances existing Internet applications, while paving the way for new solutions, which were too expensive, inefficient or slow to consider in the past. This may include everything from new e-government services, such as electronic tax filing, to online health care services, e-learning and increased levels of electronic commerce.

The development of broadband started with the expansion of the Internet. The Internet was available to the public in the 1980s but with no real means for “regular people” to access it. The initial connections were slow and the maximum speed capacity of 56 kbit/s (using dial-up connection) was not enough to really enable the demanded services. In the late 1990s broadband connections entered the market and brought the evolution of the Internet and its related services to a new level.
Today, an increasing number of people all over the world are gaining broadband access and the average broadband speed is increasing. This development is possible due to global initiatives and decreasing subscribing costs. The improved usability of Internet services has created a global demand for higher broadband speed. The broadband market is growing and governments of the countries are willing to support the progress, the rising number of Internet subscribers worldwide makes broadband studies of particular interest.
Like most new technologies, broadband was extremely expensive when first launched, and not nearly as fast as it is today. As the technology improved and the competition grew, the prices went down and the market expanded. As the demand increased, the Internet service providers began to compete with each other to offer faster broadband to affordable prices. In order to support the growing demand, new technologies such as ADSL, cable and satellite were developed. This has led to a present maximum speed that is thousands times faster compared to the first broadband connection (1024 Mbit/s vs. 0,256 Mbit/s), and the available connection speeds continue to rise. The progress of broadband has tremendously enhanced the growth of the World Wide Web. Today the public has access to a countless number of Internet applications, scripts and enterprise software that are enabled by high-speed connectivity.
The present developed society is more or less depending on the ability to communicate information quickly. In less than 20 years, broadband has become an established technology in a wide range of key sectors, such as, politics, transportation, construction, education, health and agriculture. In these parts of the world, Internet services are used on a daily basis, often several hours a day. Today, high speed Internet is accessible on PCs, cell phones or smart phones and other devices. People use it at work, at home, when travelling and during other activities. Broadband has visibly contributed to the modern society.


Figure 2: Mobile Broadband Bridges the Gap: Fixed Broadband  and Mobile Subscriptions, 2009-2018
(Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2013.)

The stellar growth in mobile is helping bridge the basic digital divide in access to ICT services (Figure 2). Expanding the availability of high-speed broadband could have several positive social, economic and environmental effects. Some of the achievable effects are: improved communication, increased innovation and productivity, new jobs and reduced environmental impact.
Even more significantly, by the end of 2013, the number of broadband subscriptions in the developing world will exceed the number of broadband subscriptions in the developed world for the first time, in both fixed and mobile, respectively. Much of this fresh growth is located in emerging markets. Much of the growth is located in developing countries, which now account for over half of all fixed broadband subscriptions. However, overall, fixed broadband penetration rates remain low, at 6.1% in developing countries, compared with 27.2% in developed countries in 2013.

Broadband technology also has the potential to support sustainable development. But what is Sustainable Development? -
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Figure 3: Simplified illustration of sustainable development.

The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but its an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society. All too often, development is driven by one particular need, without fully considering the wider or future impacts. Sustainable development recognizes that growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity for today’s population and to continue to meet the needs of future generations. It is efficient with resources and carefully planned to deliver both immediate and long-term benefits for people, planet, and prosperity. The three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social inclusion – carry across all sectors of development.
For sustainable development, the progress of technology is essential, but the technological development alone is not sufficient to ensure a sustainable future. In order to overcome the different global challenges, such as rising population, poverty, epidemics, climate changes and simultaneously maintain the economic growth, the world need powerful tools. Cooperation and communication are essential to unite nations and to engage people on all levels of society. Broadband is rare in that respect that it has the potential to address many sustainability challenges, while simultaneously increasing socio-economic development. From a political strategy perspective, there are therefore strong incentives to invest in both broadband penetration and upgrades of the average broadband speed.
Whilst many previous studies observed accessibility, penetration, deployment and adoption to broadband technology, few studies concern broadband speed. However, Rohman and Bohlin (2012) from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden recently found from a study that not only the availability of broadband, but also the speed of the broadband drives economic growth on a macro level. One of the main findings was that doubling the broadband speed for an economy increases GDP growth by 0.3 percent.

Mobile broadband services generate significant economic and social benefits, in both developed and developing countries, either directly by investment in infrastructure deployment, or through the use of the infrastructure to start new business activities, improve efficiency and productivity. Internet infrastructure contributes towards economic development by facilitating access to information, IT literacy, news, current events and links to remote markets.

Figure 4: Impact of Broadband speed up gradation on society

The use of digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband will boost accessibility and speed. These bands offer attractive propagation characteristics and an optimal balance between transmission capacity and coverage, of great advantage for remote and poorly connected rural areas. In developing nations, mobile broadband can connect remote populations and strengthen health, education, livelihoods, financial inclusion and access to government services for marginalized populations:
D.1. Education – Awareness is growing of the possibilities offered by mobile-learning. The falling cost of smart phones, the advent of lower priced tablets, cloud-computing and the rise of Open Education Resources (OERs) can increase access to education in underserved areas.
D.2. Health – Health applications available via mobile broadband can reduce costs (e.g., through access to health records); allow physicians to provide care remotely via remote monitoring and diagnosis; and support preventative care. GSMA/PWC (2013) estimate that mobile health could save developed countries US$400 billion in 2017 and save one million lives over five years in Sub-Saharan Africa.
D.3. SME growth, entrepreneurship and job growth – Mobile broadband can open up regional and global markets to local entrepreneurs. SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) can generate more revenue, lower costs, higher productivity, and jobs. SMEs which spend more than 30% of their budget on web technologies grow their revenue nine times as fast as SMEs spending less than 10% .
D.4. Agriculture – Mobile internet can boost revenue by improving access to financial services/agricultural information and by promoting supply chain efficiencies. Investments in broadband infrastructure and broadband-enabled applications and services can help to protect the environment and promote a more efficient use of natural resources. New systems built on comprehensive information to help farmers and others to plan and make the most of existing assets. Simple but valuable information can help people managing risks, which in the farmer’s case can contribute to a more secure supply of food and water
D.5. Financial Inclusion – Mobile technologies offer a way to access banking services which have been traditionally unavailable to large parts of the population. It is estimated that 2.5 billion individuals are unbanked worldwide. Mobile financial services represent an opportunity for many nations to achieve financial inclusion of the poor.
D.6. Government Services – Local and national governments can keep citizens up-to-date with new and events and offer immediate and interactive access to services (e.g. for licenses or voting).

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be possible to achieve with the progress of broadband. Some critical impacts of broadband technology over MDGs are describing below-
E.1. End Poverty & Hunger-Growing evidence suggests that broadband can boost GDP, jobs and incomes, helping to combat poverty and hunger. In the Dominican Republic, a 10% increase in broadband penetration could reduce unemployment by 2.9%7. In Indonesia, mobile broadband could boost GDP by 2.9% or US$22.6 bn. In India, broadband has already generated nearly 9 million direct and indirect jobs, while a 1% increase in broadband penetration could add US$2.7 bn or 0.11% to Indian GDP in 2015. In South Africa, wireless broadband and related industries may generate US$7.2bn and a further 28,000 jobs by 2015.
E.2.Universal Education-Governments and NGOs are providing schools with PCs and connectivity to foster primary education. Examples- in Nigeria, the USF has teamed up with Intel to deploy computers in over 1,000 schools since 2008, helping improve exam results. In Uruguay, there is a policy of one computer per child in primary and secondary education. In Singapore, all Schools promotes ICT usage by deploying teaching, learning and assessment systems, with apps deployed in 95% of schools.
E.3.Gender Equality-Closing the mobile gender gap and bringing 600 million more women online could increase global GDP by US$13-18 billion16. Connect To Learn (CTL) has equipped 10,000 students (especially girls) in schools in Brazil, Chile, China, Djibouti, Ghana,  India, Malawi, Kenya, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
E.4. Child Health-Mobile applications are also assisting parents in adding and monitoring information such as immunizations, height, weight, and other development milestones. Aggregated data collected through public health applications are allowing health professionals to access child health and wellbeing, compare indicators across localities and regions, and make better-informed public policy decisions. The One Million Community Health Workers Campaign (1mCHW) is making strides in accelerating CHW program in sub-Saharan Africa to meet the health-related MDGs.
E.5.Maternal health-Ultrasound tests through telemedicine can play a key role in the monitoring of maternal health via text, voice messaging and mobile apps. Online platforms are also serving as an information and communication hub for health facilities and supporting conversations between community health workers, midwives, clinicians, and expectant mothers. Computer-based surveys are changing the scope of HIV research and prevention. Broadband allows collaborative research of scientists around the world by integrating data much faster than previously, where repositories were isolated. Patients can share stories and experiences, support each other, reach counselors, manage their personal health records and receive reminders for appointments/medication via mobile.
E.6.Environment-Smart use of ICTs can reduce GHG (Green House Gas) emissions by up to 25% (Broadband Bridge report). Mobile technology alone could lower GHGs by 2% by 2020. E-commerce could lower energy consumption and GHG emissions by 30% over traditional retail. Teleconferencing and telecommuting could replace air and land travel via video/ audio conferences. ICTs could potentially save up to 7.8 Gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 (Source: GESI, 2012). Shifting newspapers online could potentially save 57.4 million tons of CO2 emissions over the next decade (Source: ACI, 2007).
E.7. Partnership-The benefits of new technologies, especially ICTs, should be made available by Governments in cooperation with the private sector. ICTs are facilitating and enabling new global partnerships, including crowd-sourcing, collaborative authoring, teleconferencing and tele-working. The UN Secretary-General’s Panel of High-Level Eminent Persons recently renewed calls for global partnerships as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

Although in many countries, broadband deployment has been realized through the efforts of the private sector, Governments play an essential role in ensuring a stable regulatory and legal framework to foster and incentivize investments, create a level playing-field amongst the different factors present in the market, establish adequate spectrum policy and reasonable spectrum allocation, and ensure long-term and sustainable competition. Governments can also implement programmes such as e-government, digital literacy initiatives and connected public institutions and locations. Progress on policy leadership is relatively recent, with an explosion in the number of countries introducing broadband plans in 2009-2010 (Figure 5). Prior to 2006, most plans focused on information society issues, with broadband coming to the fore from 2008 onwards. More recently, Digital Agendas have grown in popularity, incorporating a cross- sectoral perspective. By mid-2013, some 134 or 69% of all countries had a national plan, strategy, or policy in place to promote broadband, and a further 12 countries or 6% were planning to introduce such measures in the near future. However, some 47 countries (or nearly a quarter of all countries) still do not have any plan, strategy or policy in place. Even when countries have plans, achieving progress in implementation may prove challenging or slow.

Figure 5: Growth in National Broadband Plans, 2005-2013
(Source: ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission and ITU Telecommunication/ICT Regulatory Database.)

Figure 6: World Map, according to status of National Broadband Plan (NBP)
(Source: ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission and ITU Telecommunication/ICT Regulatory Database.)

The internet came late to Bangladesh. Starting in early 1990s, Bangladesh has only dialup access to e-mail using the Bulletin Board Systems (BBs) of a very few local providers and the users were not more than 500. Users were charged by the kilobyte. In June 1996 first VSAT based data circuit was commissioned and the then BTTB granted licenses to two ISPs. In the last few years it has grown considerably, although obviously from a very low base. With an estimated internet user-base of around 10 million coming into 2013, representing just fewer than 7% user penetration by population, the local internet industry has been preparing to move into the next stage of its development.
In 2009 there were 50,000 fixed broadband internet users in Bangladesh but the charges were too high in comparison with other countries. Moreover that time in Bangladesh 128 kbit/s was legally defined as broadband which was not in line with ITU’s definition. Then at the end of 2009 two companies name Banglalion and Augere ( Branded as Qubee), launched commercial WIMAX. After that broadband speed in Bangladesh actually got a pace. At the same time State owned Company, BTCL, also started ADSL, which were also giving high speed broadband service. The first 3G license in the country was awarded to Teletalk and the state-owned operator Teletalk launched a pilot 3G offering in September 2012.  Although the 3G licensing process for private operators had become bogged down for some time, the planned auction taken place in September 2013 and at the beginning of 2014 four other Mobile operators (Banglalink, Robi Axiata and Bharti Airtel) started 3G business also. After 3G Subscriptions to ‘mobile internet’ services were growing at a rapid rate. Mobile penetration had grown to 72% by September 2013; The 100 million mobile subscriber milestone had been reached in 2013;
Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose recently told that they had decided to award LTE (Long term Evaluation) license to facilitate speedy internet access. The five companies- Banglalion, Qubee, Bangladesh Internet Exchange Limited (BIEL), Mango and state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited -will have to pay Tk 2.46 billion for the licence.

Figure7: Mobile Phone Network Technology and Data Speed Progression
(Source: Huawei TNMA 2013)

  The 4G technologies i.e LTE are designed to provide IP- based voice, data and multimedia streaming at speeds of at least 100 Mbit per second and up to as fast as 1 GBit per second. 4G LTE is one of several competing 4G standards along with Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) and WiMax. In the licensing guideline of BTRC, the regulator has kept the option for LTE service. If any mobile operator shows interest to offer LTE service, it does not need to take license again, as the 3G license will permit it to provide the services.

Studies show that increased broadband speed has a positive impact on the economy of a country. Broadband enables more flexible work arrangements and help people to save time. Higher broadband speed leads to increased household incomes and GDP growth, both in develop and developing countries. A main reason for poverty is isolation from the rest of the global community. In order to help developing countries out of poverty, it is necessary to invest in broadband, both in availability and speed. If this fails, developing countries risk missing out on the economic and social benefits associated with broadband. To maximize the impact of broadband on ICTs, policy- makers must come together and formulate common strategies on a converged ICT policy aligned with other policy areas such as energy, health and education. Today a growing number of countries have a national broadband plan, policy or strategy in place; this is crucial when it comes to extend the benefits of broadband. Nevertheless, our future is undoubtedly based on broadband. Although some end-users may believe broadband is about downloading bigger files more rapidly, broadband actually represents so much more. Broadband is introducing new ways of doing things across our personal and professional lives, in the many and varied ways we communicate – integrating information infrastructure into the world around us through seamless, always-on connectivity delivering a range of services simultaneously. Governments, health managers, businesses, consumers and teachers are all getting to grips with the positive and transformational impact of broadband for improving economic and social welfare.
All those discussions show that digital development is a transformative tool to fast-track sustainable development. In order to realize its full potential it is essential to roll-out high-speed broadband networks, making it affordable and universally accessible. Very sensibly International Telecommunication Union (ITU) takes "Broadband for Sustainable Development" as the theme of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2014. Which will focus attention on multi-stakeholder commitment to achieve universal access to broadband connectivity and content and foster political will on achieving this objective; identify key gaps in broadband research and development, infrastructure, and packaged development of applications and services; define policy priorities for action in the areas of allocating radio frequency spectrum for broadband, universal access obligations and innovative financing mechanisms; and lead to technological solutions, particularly in the extension of broadband access into rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing states.

(Source: Internet)

Written By
Mamun Monzurul Aziz
Assistant Divisional Engineer
mo: 01550151437

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