Quantified Global Broadband Strategies for Connecting Unconnected Communities
31 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2019 Last revised: 5 Aug 2019
Date Written: July 26, 2019
Delivering prosperity to all requires efficient and equitable access to infrastructure. This is certainly true for digital infrastructure which is now essential for both societal and economic development, as the internet provides a range of new opportunities for (monetary and non-monetary) value creation. Surprisingly, our understanding of how to connect people to the internet is largely based on local or national case studies, as opposed to any systematic unifying assessment. Indeed, the existing tools and data available to decision makers is scant with most approaches treating countries as homogeneous units without providing the sub-national comparative economic assessment of different digital infrastructure strategies. Reflecting spatial heterogeneity in engineering-economic models is essential and can help prioritise limited financial resources to different locations based on the cost of delivering connectivity. Hence, the aim of this paper is to develop a globally-scalable assessment framework which can be applied to any country to support national and international policy making on narrowing the digital divide for 4G connectivity. Such an approach is applied here to Uganda, where the strategies tested include both passive and active infrastructure sharing (‘neutral hosting’) in rural locations to reduce costs, as well as quantifying the efficiency of fixed fibre versus microwave backhaul technologies. The globally-scalable software developed contributes the necessary tools for undertaking continental, or even global, digital infrastructure assessment.
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