The 2017 edition of A4AI’s annual Affordability Report, released 20 February 2017, examines the state of policy progress toward affordable internet across 58 low and middle-income countries. The report finds that, despite having pledged to achieve affordable, universal internet access, governments are failing to back these promises with concrete action. Just 19 countries surveyed can claim to have affordable internet (i.e., 1GB of mobile broadband priced at 2% or less of average monthly income). Despite this, policies in the sector have barely changed since we started assessing policies for this report in 2014 — in the years since, the average increase in policy scores across all areas was only 10%.
This year’s report finds additional signs of this inaction:
- National broadband plans have never been developed or are badly outdated in 41% of countries.
- Universal Service and Access Funds — designed to extend connectivity to those who cannot afford access or who live in areas without needed infrastructure — either don’t exist or are dormant — in over a third of countries.
- Effective, funded schemes to offer free or subsidised access to the internet in public places exist in only half the countries surveyed.