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Blog, Our Commintmet, Digital Divide

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May 17, 2022

Today is World Telecommunications and Information Society Day, celebrated every year on May 17. But this day has a history, do you know it?

Since 1969, World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated every May 17 to commemorate two important events:

  • The founding of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
  • The signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865.

On the other hand, since November 2005, following a request by members of the World Summit on the Information Society to the United Nations General Assembly, every May 17 was declared World Information Society Day. The objective was to disseminate the importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the world.

Later, in November 2006, at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Antalya (Turkey), it was decided to join both celebrations, establishing the celebration of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on May 17.

What is the purpose of this day? To raise awareness about the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies, with a view to reducing the digital divide.

Universal digital connectivity

Digital technology is evolving at a very fast pace around the world, but not uniformly. Some 60% of the world’s population has access to the Internet, but most of these people live in developed countries. In less developed countries, one in five people have access to the Internet. This is important because education, work and public services are increasingly dependent on access to digital technology. Moreover, lack of connectivity is a growing obstacle to people’s development.

In addition, in these times marked by Covid, the Internet has become the solution to many problems posed by the pandemic. Unfortunately, many inequalities have been seen.

According to UNESCO, only 55% of the world’s households have an Internet connection, a figure that highlights the importance of combating the digital divide.

To this end, the different countries and organizations must impose solutions and tools to ensure that universal digital connectivity is equitable. For example, in Spain, Lluis Deulofeu has created the Cellnex Foundation.

Despite improvements in coverage, according to the INE there are still one million households without quality Internet access and 19% of families do not have a computer. There are orographic difficulties and scarce infrastructure profitability to improve coverage in rural and sparsely populated areas.

According to INE data, in 2020, more than 20% of Spaniards did not search for information on the Internet or use e-mail. Almost 40% did not use digital banking.

Initiatives to address inequalities

  • Google’s Next Billion Users: Conducts research and creates products to address the needs of new Internet users.
  • Amazon‘s Project kupier & SpaceX’s Starlink: Satellites in orbit to provide Internet access in places without connectivity around the world.
  • Digital India Program Governmt: Providing Internet access to its entire population, and offers digital banking, governance, education and health services.
  • Roadmap for Digital Cooperation: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the United Nations are working to achieve universal connectivity by 2030.
  • GIGA Initiative: ITU and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) want to connect all schools to the Internet.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Innovation Service: Promotes access to digital technologies for refugees.
  • UNDP: Works to bring connectivity to remote areas and vulnerable populations. It also promotes digital livelihoods for women and is creating indicators to measure the gender digital divide.

Achieving universal digital connectivity empowers everyone to enjoy a safe, enriching and productive online experience. It is also key to enabling digital transformation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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