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Redefining Affordability

Mobile phone stall, Yangon. (Photo by Remko Tanis, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Global Internet prices are falling, but growth in use is slowing. Is it time to rethink our definition of affordability?

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The ITU’s recently released Measuring the Information Society 2015 report highlighted the progress we’ve made toward increasing access to affordable Internet across the globe. Two findings stand out:

  • By early 2015, 111 countries — including all of the world’s developed countries and 67 developing countries — had achieved the UN Broadband Commission’s 2015 target of entry-level broadband (i.e., 500MB of prepaid mobile broadband) priced at 5% or less of a country’s average monthly income.
     
  • In many developing countries, reaching the 5% target has not translated into increased Internet use and adoption. For example, three of the four African countries in which A4AI works have met the 5% target or are very close — Ghana (4.48%), Nigeria (5.4%) and Mozambique (6.28%) — yet all three countries have unique mobile broadband subscription rates below 15% (GSMA Intelligence, 2014).

We believe now is the time to redefine "affordability" and to set a new target — and we need your help. Read the full blog post and tell us how you would define "affordable" Internet.

Will reducing costs to 4% of average monthly income be enough for those still offline today to afford to connect? How relevant is a 500MB target in our data-hungry and increasingly data-dependent world? What would be a target that is both realistic and likely to have greater impact on access, particularly amongst the last billions to connect?

Join the conversation on the A4AI blog or share your thoughts via Twitter @a4a_internet or Facebook.
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