September 27, 2011 - 11:00am
The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the Sixth Meeting of the IGF, in Nairobi, Kenya. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> RAJESHREE DUTTA KUMAR: A warm welcome to all of you for the workshop 133. I welcome all of you on our first day of this IGF forum. Thank you so very much for coming and joining us.
We have with us N Ravi Shanker, Additional Secretary, department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India. So I welcome you. And I ask you to Chair the session for us.
We have with us Graciela Selaimen, Instituto Nupef. I welcome you.
We have Klaus Stoll, acting Executive Director, Global Knowledge Partnership Foundation.
We have Mr. Abhishek Singh, Director, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India
We have with us Mr. Venkatesh Hariharan, Head of Public Policy and Government Relations, Google India. I welcome you.
We have with us Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, The Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, Karnata.
So with due permission from our Chair, I would just like to share a few slides of the thoughts that have gone into having this workshop organised here.
So, when we are talking about Internet Governance and as we know many of the countries, especially Finland, they have already kind of declared or announced the Internet Governance to be one of the base Human Rights. That is good news for all of us. We can learn from how they have kind of arrived at bringing the global attention on Internet Governance.
While on the one hand we have Internet Governance to be considered as one of the basic Human Rights, we should also have sudden thoughts on the challenges that we have on access and diversity, and hence we are here to discuss the workshop objectives or the goals.
So we start with the first slide that talks about the information age. The knowledge evolution driving global economy in 21st century. We know about it. There are many, many new ways of communication that have been spawning across unit works. But digital divide still remains a problem of our times.
Now, when we are talking about broadband Internet, what do we understand? So a few thoughts that we have been able to present to you here, when we are talking about broadband Internet, it is always on high speed connection. That is how we understand broadband. And it also allows us to reach content. And then there are certain kinds of hidden conditions which need to be kind of brought out and which need to be discussed also. And it is also -- we have started considering this entire broadband Internet revolution to be as one of the basic components of the basic infrastructure when we are talking about growth and development.
Certain good examples that we have as which actually highlights the power of the Internet: The mass mobilization in the Arab Spring. The Libya crisis. Evacuation of the Indians. I'm just giving you a few examples, which may be India biased, but we are here to learn more from all of you.
After the panelists have presented their views on the broadband Internet access issues, the planning Commission of India is coming up with the five-year plan next year, which will be rolled out. So in the planning Commission of India, they are inviting solicitations from citizens by using the Internet.
Now, there are the problems that we thought we could just identify a few of the problems, cost of device, cost of connectivity. Connectivity and broadband in rural areas, language in which Internet is organised. We in the Indian context, it's really important for us to mention that India is one country with 11 script and 22 languages. So how does Internet Governance or Internet address the plains, the dynamic situations that we have in India and language in which portals are created? Access of illiterates and usually challenged people is still limited.
The control of Internet is one of the questions that we may talk about here in this workshop and the root server, we have seen that they are also considered in developed countries. But it has a set of advantages, but what next? In the next five or ten years, how do we see it getting -- do we see this being established in a developing country or how do we go about it? And the issues for the new future could be net neutrality or IPv6.
And we come to the last slide, there are a few key questions that we have managed to jot down as to what model is the best way to promote an open Internet. How to speed up roll-out of broadband in rural areas. How to encourage development of apps for local needs. How to decentralize Internet. How to speed up migration to IPv6. How to confront the debate over net neutrality. How best to establish direct relation with the access issues. And socioeconomic situations, we've all have opportunities when we talk about accessing Internet? These are the questions that we thought we could just leave you with.
And I welcome all of you again and I hand over the session to N Ravi Shanker. So can you just lead us? Thank you.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you, Rajeshree. You summarized it very, very well for kick starting this session.
We have an expert panel here representing Brazil and the academia. We have the Global Knowledge Society in this session, in academia, plus I would say Civil Society. We have Mr. Sunil Abraham from the Civil Society, India.
We have Venkatesh Hariharan from Google. He is an Indian representative from a global company.
We have my colleague, Mr. Abhishek Singh, who is driving one of the key programmes. So in that sense, while it's India centric, it's got a fairly wide base of the multi-stakeholder that IGF represents.
But I'd like to start out with Graciela Selaimen of the Institute in Brazil. Welcome to you, ma'am.
>> GRACIELA SELAIMEN: Thank you very much. Good morning to all.
I will start apologizing, because I'm going to have to make my presentation, maybe if I can be allowed, open the floor for contribution and questions, but I have to leave earlier. Because I have, as many of us here in the IGF, I have to be in two places at the same time in many moments during this event. So I apologize for leaving earlier than I would desire.
I work in Brazil in an NGO based in Rio called Institute of le Peff, and we have been working for many, many years in aiming to bring and to democratize the access to the Internet for Civil Society among the Brazilian population. This is really a project that started 22 years ago, with participation of inclusion of the constitution inclusion of Internet. And it continues changing over time with the profile of the organisation, but with the same focus, which is to democratize the access to the Internet in our country, now the access to broadband Internet as well, but also to citizens' participation and the appropriation of the possible uses of the Internet for the strengthening of Civil Society and for the citizen use and Democratic uses of Internet. By the citizens. By Civil Society.
So I would like to start sharing with you some figures about the access to the Internet in Brazil. I think this is important to contextualize some of the opinions that I am going to share with you afterward. In Brazil we have 12.8 million broadband connections, with an average monthly cost of 93 dollars for a monthly connection.
The expenditures monthly per capita represents 4.5 percent of the monthly per capita monthly income of a Brazilian citizen, which is far from Russia, for example, where it represents 1.68 percent of the expenditure, and of developing countries, where the expenditures with broadband connection represents an average of 0.5 percent of the monthly per capita income.
So, it's important to highlight, for example, that the costs of Internet connection in Brazil, broadband Internet connection in Brazil, is five times more expensive than in Japan. 2.7 times more expensive than in Russia. And 2.5 times more expensive than in Mexico, other countries made in America.
We can say that Internet broadband connection in Brazil is very expensive and very bad quality of service that we have. The average broadband access speed in Brazil is around 1.5 MegaHertz per second. 33 percent of what we call broadband connections are 256 kilobytes per second. And only 1 percent of broadband connections in the country reach more than 8 megabytes per second. And we can only find this average of speed in the richer areas of big sets such as Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paolo. There are regions in these areas where you don't have access to broadband connections at all, such as in the peripheries and in the poorest regions of the city. So we have huge gaps in terms of access in the country, still.
In terms of diversity, I think it's important to highlight that we like diversity in terms of the marketshare of the offerors of the broadband connections.
Actually, now, three companies hold 84.3 percent of the market of broadband connection in the country. And we cannot say that we will have policies that enhance competition in this area. It is a very concentrated market, which is not different from our medias in Brazil. We also have a very concentrated market in terms of openership of newspapers and other kind of what we call traditional media, such as TV and radio. This is a market traditionally that is part of the Brazilian history to have a huge concentration and cross ownership. I mean, the same company owns different kind of media.
There is also a lack of diversity in terms of the access to broadband connections in rural and in urban areas. Of course, Brazil is a huge country. We know that the challenge to reach our more than 5,000 municipalities is really considerable. But we still have more than half of the Brazilian municipalities without local access to broadband connection. And this is something that we are expecting our government to address in its -- in the policies that are being developed and discussed at the national level.
Many times when people talk about access to the Internet, we hear from experiences from other countries related to the mobile telephone as a possible alternative to the access to the Internet. And in Brazil, it's a fact that mobile has reached a huge amount of the population. Actually, we have more mobile phones than citizens in the country. But this doesn't mean that we have an alternative to face the problem of the access to Internet, because 83 percent of the mobile phones are in the modality that we call the prepaid mobile phones. So a person pays about 10 or 20 Reis a month to have a mobile phone and receive calls and SMS messages. But you cannot use it. It's a very small amount of money that people have available to use it to really produce content or access content on the Internet. So this is something that we are always trying to highlight.
The reality in Brazil in relation to mobile telephony as an alternative to Internet connection is still far from being a real and concrete possibility, or at least an acceptable possibility for what we consider that can be a really useful and effective experience of the user on the Internet.
Having said this, and having presented to you the statistics and figures, I would like to move ahead and think or reflect about what is the meaning of the broadband access if we don't think also together with the efforts to bring access to people on the uses that this access makes possible and the experience people have on the Internet? And this is totally related to the capacity building and the access to content and to applications.
In this sense, there are some perspectives on the enhancement of diversity related to the access to the Internet in the country that we must take into considerations, and one of them is the perspective of gender.
When we look at the numbers of Internet access in the country in terms of the numbers in terms of access by men and women, if one looks at the statistics today, we can even imagine that the gender gap is overcome, because the numbers are very balanced. There is very little difference in terms of statistics of the access of men and women to the Internet. However, we know that there are other aspects of diversity that must be considered which are not only related to the possibility of accessing the Internet but also especially related to the possibility of using it in a way that empowers the user and makes sense to the people who are accessing and to the communities who are making this use.
And in this sense we can say that we still face big gaps in terms of gender and the appropriation of ICTs in the country that must be considered. And one of these gaps is specifically in terms of the capacity building and the ability of women to not only use, but also develop technology in the country.
The reality that we have is that this is a field of knowledge and a professional area where the presence of women is still very far from the ideal, and there is no presence, at least consistent presence, of women as technology and, for example, software developers and engineers and in the careers that are related to the development of technology in the country. This is specifically important when we take into consideration that technology is not neutral, and it brings embedded in it self values, world views, and culture traditions that we carry, and bring different perspectives in this possibility of developing technology. It's extremely important. And we at the organisation that I work with and which I represent, we defend that the enhancement and the development of policies would not only stimulate a wider participation of women and the stimulation of programmes that develop capacities among women not only to use technology but also to develop it, to think critically about it, is especially important.
Moreover, we are convinced that the use of free and open software is a key factor in promoting more diversity in the developing of technology itself for the possibilities that it offers to share, to modify, and -- okay, I have one minute? Okay. I'll move on.
So, still talking about the development and technology as an important part of our efforts of bringing meaning to the Internet access is the aspect of technologies that enable People with Disabilities to use the Internet. In Brazil, we are still very far from where we would like to be in terms of the reach of People with Disabilities to relevant content online. Even when we analyze, for example, governmental Web sites and Web sites that should be dedicated and focused on offering service for every citizen in the country, we realise that there is still not a culture implemented among our governmental institutions of using accessible technologies and using platforms and standards of design and of development of content that take into consideration the needs of the People with Disabilities.
And this is a main challenge that we have to face in order to permit a more diverse Internet and the diverse possibility of access to content, especially the content that is supposed to reach every citizen in the country, which is the one that we can find in the -- in eGovernment Web sites. This is something that is very -- I think it's very important to highlight and to think critically about it.
In Brazil, we are at this moment trying to discuss a national broadband plan. It is supposed to be a government strategy to bring broadband access to all the municipalities in the country in 2014. However, we as a civil site are still critical about the -- the next steps that have been taken up to now in terms of this broadband plan. We defend the idea that to have a more diverse Internet we have to have more dialog with Civil Society, and this is something that we have been working in on order to promote in the country open space for dialog with Civil Society, when thinking not only about the broadband plan but we defend the need for a strategic plan in the long-term for our country with the full participation of the sectors of society.
This is not only related to the physical structure and the physical access to the Internet, but to the uses that broadband may represent in the lives of the citizens.
So I'll finish this for now. I used all the time I have available. And I'm keen to respond to questions if there are any. Thank you very much.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you for your insight into Brazil and the broadband initiative.
Now I'd like to request the next panel speaker, Mr. Klaus Stoll, to give us a global perspective as he represents the Global Knowledge Partnership Foundation. So while we had a Brazilian perspective, now we would like to have a global perspective. Because the rest of the speakers will bring an Indian perspective to it.
For the benefit of all, I'd like a limited presentation so that the other participants here have an opportunity to bounce questions to you. Thank you.
>> KLAUS STOLL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for the invitation. It's an honour to be able to speak here, and I'll try to follow your guidance.
Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you in one point. I lived in and I love India and I'm observing India all the time, so a bit of the Indian perspective will come in.
Let me talk first about the word "digital divide." To be honest with you, I had a problem with the word "Digital divide." Because in my experience and the experience from my work in Ecuador, the digital divide doesn't exist in communities which don't have the need for Internet access. And there were a lot of communities in the Amazon who never wanted access and never needed it because they were unaware and they were happy. And now there are different phases of the digital divide, and that's when everybody tasted access and everybody has access in one way or another, and you are asked to come to the table and then suddenly you are told you only can take one bite. You're not allowed to take the full meal. You're not allowed to satisfy to your hunger, because, quite simply, it's all about strategic use.
And if you -- and this is what it's all about in broadband. Because users are what maintains the Internet, what maintains the system. Because we have to generate value in the Internet and the value will drive the development of the applications.
So, for example, I understand Graciela's statistics and I support them and they are right. But I have a different and maybe a crude perspective. But in my observation, it doesn't matter if broadband access is $100 or $200 or even more. But if the the bandwidth and the tools and the strategic use is in place to generate the multiple thousand, two thousand dollars of business out of it, it doesn't matter what the cost of that broadband is. It's not about the connectivity. It's about the strategic use of that connectivity.
And I have learned something in the recent months when I actually visited Google headquarters, because we were invited by Google and it was really a wonderful experience. And we came with an attitude of okay, Google, tell us what wonderful tools you have and what we can make out of it. And the guys from Google came back and said hey, wait a moment. It should be the other way around. We have got the Google applications. What are you going to do with these applications to use for development? What are you going to do to do these things? And that is the right approach. We shouldn't go out and say okay, you do that for me, you do that for me, you do that for me, you do that for me. How about taking the existing tools and creating alliances? And I think the potential of Google maps hasn't been developed by 1 percent. There is so much stuff in there which could be done for development. We didn't even start about that.
The other point I want to talk about is there is a really clear development now which is broadband initiatives and broadband access. And you might know that I was and still heavily am involved with the telecentre movement in Latin America, but also global. And it's really, really interesting how certainly the telecentre initiatives become local and regional broadband initiatives. And in a way it's absolutely logical. They brought connectivity and now there are people who implement the second phase. And I really think they are ready partners and ready organisations and ready organisations and ready knowledge to go on to the next phase for that.
Another observation on that front is does it always have to be the centre of government? In Ecuador, for example, there exists 48 municipalities in the Amazon region and three in the Galapagos who simply said we provide that broadband. We provide the strategic use. We provide the conditions, because we knew what the payback was. And they worked together in the private and government stage or they brought in the social sector because they found out that the other sectors had a lot of knowledge of what they needed to make for that and how to get going.
And I think that as long as the governments create the conditions for local initiatives to establish themselves, there is nothing wrong with doing that on a local basis.
Last point which I want to make, and it is actually a very passionate one, why do we always look for the gaps and the problems and not also have a look at the positive example and the things which are actually going on?
We are sitting here at the IGF and I think we should make a list of how many conversations we hear and we are involved in, in saying that doesn't work, that government is doing wrong and ICANN doesn't work. And actually, the truth is exactly the opposite. ICANN is, as I'm saying, which has millions of faults, but it works. But we still have the Internet and we have a very very good Internet development. There is nothing wrong with ICANN. It's wrong what we do with it and not getting engaged and making it better.
And, for example, the establishment of the new noncommercial user group, constituency of ICANN, IMPOC is a simple example, but ICANN is able to respond to these things.
Why don't we talk about the positive of some examples of strategic use of connectivity of broadband access around the world? And another thing is quite simply I know India and I traveled India for the last 15 years, and if I was Indian and looked at what's happening on the Internet, I would be terribly, terribly proud. Because India has done great stuff. And there are a lot of things that India was and can learn, but also others can learn from India. Don't always look on the band points, let's learn to transfer and interchange the knowledge of the good points.
That's all I want to say. Thank you very much.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you, Klaus. And now let me shift to a corporate. Global is entrenched in there. This is an Indian flavor but a global perspective. Thank you.
>> VENKATESH HARIHARAN: Thanks. I would like to share a Google perspective of policy. And yesterday I was at the administerial, and I was hoping to see that everybod was talking about how do we increase broadband penetration and content in local languages. So on those fronts I feel that policymakers are pushing the right buttons. At the same time, having been a policy person for the last 7 or 8 years, there is one red button that people are pushing, and the experience that we have seen over the last 20 years is when it comes to a crisis situation, one of the easiest things for policymakers to do is to reach out to the platforms and networks and see how they can control and censure that. And that is a serious issue that policymakers need to evaluate. The concern is that when platforms are held liable for the content on their networks, it has a chilling effect because we are user platforms.
We aggregate content from across users, and we are not a central command and control kind of thing.
So, the way policymakers handle those needs, we manage it in a different way. There is investment in the pipelines and networks that is happening and I think that is the right thing to do. But the governance of those networks, the rule of law, the processes of law that, you know, manage these networks is also very, very important.
Just having the pipeline and the networks is not enough. How do we go on these networks is a very, very important issue. And there I think in the last years we have global experience. We have seen that it's very easy to hold the platforms and say take down this or that content. But what is important for networks to try is a stable policy environment, and a stable policy environment is derived from the rule of law. There have to be clear rules for taking down content. Because at the end of the day, platforms have two responsibilities. One responsibility is to the users and the other responsibility is to the lawmakers.
And I can say that in -- I can say on behalf of the industry that whenever there have been issues, entire attacks, and those kind of law enforcement challenges, I can say confidently on behalf of my colleagues and counterparts in our countries that we have gone gone beyond the prospects of our jobs to help policymakers. But we have an environment that allows us to work with counterparts in industry, work with the government, to advance the cause of the Internet in the global sphere.
So on the advancement of content, access and diversity of Internet access, some of the things that we are working on, how do we get great educational content online? For example, if you look at that, I was speaking to people from the Kahn academy, and they mentioned that almost 20 percent of their content for the education area comes from India. If you look at the India scenario, where most people access it from their offices or cyber cafes, you know, there is only a small percentage, 30 percent, 40 percent, that is accessing from it their homes. What that means is that thirst for content and knowledge and the demand is so high that people are opening huge numbers of barriers to access the Internet. So those are areas where we can work with the government, other parts in industry, with nonprofits in the education space, but the biggest issue that we need from policymakers, the biggest support that we need is a stable policy environment, a clear cut due process of law, so we can focus on meeting the demands of policymakers and the users.
There is a huge temptation to grab hold of the platforms. Again, I'm repeating the fact that this is something that we have seen across the world. This was flagged in the administerial yesterday, and I want to put it on the table. And I think issues like driving broadband access, these are areas where we can work with everybody, industry, government and technology, but where we need the support of the government and the association charter. We need a stable environment that enables us to go out and do our best in the other areas.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you. That gives us insight into how a global corporation looks at a country environment in which you work. And it adds to the dimension of the dialog that is going on here.
The Civil Society in India is pretty vibrant. And Mr. Sunil Abraham represents one of the very well recognized civil societies. I'd like to request Sunil to present his perspective on access and diversity, which adds to the flavor of this idea, Internet as a catalyst of change.
>> SUNIL ABRAHAM: Thank you so much. For my presentation, I'm hoping to focus on three stories and draw some learnings from those stories that are relevant to broadband access, particularly from the lens of intellectual property.
The first story is from Tagikistan. And when I came to the IGF yesterday, some people were discussing the proposal from Russia, China, Tagikistan and Uzbekistan. And I did not hear complements. People were highly critical of the proposal. But if you look at the proposal carefully, it places sufficient emphasis on access to information, and this was my experience when I went to Tajikistan. I wanted to access movies, and the local cinema is popular and the Russian cinema is very popular, the ISP caches, the full film on a local server at their premises, and I clicked on the link for a particular film and the 2.7 GB file was downloaded in something like five minutes.
And that's my experience of the fastest broadband anywhere in the world. Even on torrent technology, this has not happened in a more faster manner either in the Netherlands or US. And this is what is currently available, thanks to the cooperation of ISPs in Tajikistan. Most of you realise that this is illegal, but there is a way to make this a legitimate phenomenon. This is discussed across the world, something like a copyright list, if on your broadband bill you got an additional charge for consuming copyrighted works, then that additional charge based on data from the torrent networks and also based on data from the direct download system supported by the ISP could be routed to the rights holders through collect societies.
So what is technically a use if solutions could also be made legally a legitimate solution?
The second story is from China and from the factors of Shenzin. I don't have a PPT, but I have something to show and tell. This is a phone branded in India and sold in India, but made there. It's called the spice popcorn N9000. It costs $150 in comparison to my Canadian Blackberry which costs $300. There are many features that the phones share, audio recording, video recording, support for Internet. But let me for a moment focus on the features that is available in this $150 phone but unavailable in the $300 phone.
To begin with, receiver for FM radio. Receiver for television. Projector, which works not very well in this room, but these are, in a darkened room, you'd be able to get to a screen roughly the size of a television. This has boom box speakers. When you watch television on it, you can watch it usefully. It ships with support for dual simcards, which is important in countries like Africa where there are high interconnection fees. It comes from a torch and laser projector, which is useful in the classroom context.
Usually Chinese mobile phones also ship out of the box with an additional battery, which is useful in a little complex. In India, the so-called silicon valley, where I say we have two hours of parking there. So this is an amazing device in terms of its appropriate design.
Again, this device is most probably illegal in the U.S. And European markets because of patent infringement, but is most likely legal in the Indian and Chinese markets. Because a lot of those patents weren't registered at the Indian patent office.
Perhaps they are asking for too much. On a simple device there are 26,000 patents, and it's hard for a person in Shinzen to comply to those patents.
If you look at the innovation cycle at Nokia or Blackberry, it's 18 months from the drawingboard to the finished product.
In Shinzen you tell them what you want, and then you give them a GIF, which is the space logo in this space, and then within 45 days they give you the thing you ask for. So in terms of innovation, it's responsive to micromarkets. 5,000 phones can be ordered in this fashion in India.
So what should be done? There are a variety of policy items. You'll have to catch me to get a more proper description.
The first is patent pools. We need patent pools on all the layers to make it easier for compliance. Royalaty caps. In India there was a five percent royalty cap and a variety of other mechanisms such as compulsory licenses and street licenses.
The last story is from south India, a college called the College of engineering at Condator. And the librarian there at that college put together an archive of electronic terms. It was a list of things that are put together legitimately or there was an amount of copyright. And it was all mixed together. And the library managed to map the curriculum in that school and in the University system in the state to all the content that was in this repository. The size of the repository was 4 Terabytes. So this was use useful to the college community. If it was publicly available, it was illegal. But perhaps if it was available only within the college intranet, and there was a sophisticated intranet there, then that could be considered potentially legal under the education exception.
And, unfortunately, most of the education exceptions in copyright law were designed for the preInternet age, and it takes a long time for countries to update copyright laws.
In WIPO, the group of African nations have come up with a useful new formulation of what this education exception would look like. And that is a proposal that we all need to discuss very carefully. And perhaps through this variety of strategies, Graciela mentioned one, which was free and open licenses, and she mentioned open source software. That is just one possible strategy.
But there are a variety of other policy options available to nation States when they are trying to configure appropriate and affordable broadband within their countries.
Thank you for your time.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you, Sunil. You have stirred a lot of mischief, and also along the line you have given insight into how your skills of marketing could be used. So that is one area. And maybe patent advocacy and perhaps many several talk shows. So I think the idea brought you to the fore.
Now, the aspect of Internet as a catalyst for change, and some of the issues which governments across the globe are grappling with, access and diversity. It's something which Abhishek Singh from the Department of Information and society will capture as he is associated with one of the pioneering programmes in the Government of India. Over to you, Abhishek Singh.
>> ABHISHEK SINGH: Thank you, sir.
I must say that the talks which were shared with regard to access and diversity of broadband Internet covered most of the aspects which most countries are facing with regard to making Internet a basic right for all people of the country, citizens of their countries. And today, Internet is regarded as one of the key infrastructures. It's like I would say as important as a highway.
Like, for example, yesterday when we were coming from the airport to our hotel here in Nairobi, it took us long. And we felt that that 15 kilometer drive should have taken 30 minutes, and it took two hours. And the thought was why was it so? It was because a lot of construction is on and the highways are being widened. And it's felt that once this highway is ready and made in a proper shape and is available to all, people will be able to travel distances faster.
The same applies to the Internet also. When we say that access to Internet is to be provided, the first and foremost thing that we have to look at is how do we make sure that like the highways to connect villages in the country, the Internet pipe reaches every citizen? And it's easier said than done. If we look at options that we have in the cities and options that we have in our offices, we have multimodal ways of presenting broadband: Wireless or on 3G or 4G that we have on the phones. But there are still large sections across the world, large villages, large communities, which have not yet been given access to a shared network. So the prime focus when we are talking about access to the Internet is how do we ensure that this is done?
Every person in the world has access to Internet or an access point. We consider this as a considerable challenge. When we started making things available publicly, the thing that came to mind is to make sure that there is no digital divide and people who have Internet would be given better service than those who don't. We thought of a means, which is one of the largest initiatives, and it was felt that while taking fiber to the villages will take time, but at least a service delivery access point which has broadband Internet connectivity has to be established in all villages of the country.
We started a programme for setting up our own 100,000 kiosks. And they got funding. And the rule was to ensure that they are active Internet access points, where the community can seek information and services and private services and get all the benefits which Internet brings to them.
>> So that took a long time for us, more than 3 years to set up the centres. They are delivered and they are the prime means by which more more than 60 percent of the rural Community access the Internet. This is addressed differently in different countries.
The next initiative with regard to taking the entire masses on to the Internet would be how do we expand this? How do we make it cheaper? What are the Internet access points? And they are cheaper than what Brazil has. It's possible to get broadband connectivity at $2, with the download limits of 1 GB per month. It goes to $8 if you want unlimited access. Internet access is less, but the problem is that the pipes have to be laid in the villages and to make sure that everybody has access to the connectivity.
The second challenge that comes is how do we provide everyone a device with which to access? The device access prices have not come down.
With regard to the tablets and mobile devices which came up, in fact, last week only I was in one of the IATs in India, where they have a tablet which can connect to the Internet, which costs around $35 only. So, a lot of work and innovation going on in that. And if the cost of this device comes down which can connect to the Internet and which provides information to the citizens, there will be a rapid rise in the number of people who are using that.
And after the infrastructure, the connectivity part of the broadband and the device part of the challenges, the other key component of course would mean what do we do? What do we do when you have the connectivity as a well as devices to access that? And that concerns content. How do we make sure that relevant content is available in the local language languages? And it has to access the fundamental basic needs of people across geographies. The way the Internet has grown, the way the social media phenomenon has happened in the last few years, what it has led to is that, if I may use the word, the issues with regard to governments and with regard to reforms in governments were addressed largely by the social media networks. And it's leading to more changes in the governance area.
But what we need to see is how do we use it for addressing the other fundamental needs with regard to education, health, skill level, and with regard to financial? What we found is that while fundamental policy levels and reforms are important, it's important to use the Internet for improving the quality of life for an ordinary citizen. In most parts of our country, very often the people, the challenges that they face is they don't have access to quality education. There is a lack of trained teachers that are available, and others -- it's difficult to get them to get into the classrooms and teach to the people what the students require.
So, once the Internet pipe is there and once the connectivity is available to each and every village, then why couldn't we have content like the Kahn University has done, especially in math and so on? But what can we do to ensure that similar content, math, science, et cetera, is made available in the local language and made available to the students so that students in the classrooms can have access to this? And it will help people come up -- come up with the deficiencies that they face in the educational field.
Health, we find most people are denied access to healthcare. The smaller towns and places don't have access to specialists and to experts who have the best knowledge in the medical field. Can the Internet not be used for building up the hospitals and building up a countrywide or global network wherein people get the best of the healthcare by staying in their villages, without having to travel a lot of distance? It has a great potential to address the requirements of preventive healthcare and especially with regard to the -- in the field of mother and child care. So it can help prevent -- it can help improve the infant mortality rates. And basic healthcare, vaccination, is given to all the people in the rural areas.
The other component in which content needs to be created is with regard to skill development. Like how do we upgrade the skills of people in the rural areas? How do we ensure that they are able to do what they were doing? There might be Carpenters, Masons, others, but how do we ensure that all of them are able to upgrade their skills and improve their earnings and climb up on the economic ladder? So they have a huge potential to play, and that would address the needs of setting up skilled institutions and can be used for training people on a large scale.
And the other area in which we need to in fact -- it's a challenge in India, but I'm sure other countries are also facing the challenges with regard to how do we ensure financial service, banking services, are available to the poor? In India, more than 60 percent of our population don't have access to banking facilities. And that means a lot to them, because not only there is that, that they are not able to access financial services, it means that they don't get access to institutional credit, which affects the way they move up -- which affects their entrepreneurial skills, which affects how do they create new businesses and how do they create income for themselves, for the community, for the nation?
So with the coming of Internet and especially with the 100,000 kiosks that we are setting up, we are tied up with banks. The centres work as franchises of these banks and then they are able to provide banking services to the people who come there. So without the banks having to expand their network, we have a network of bank branches in the form of this kiosk which are offering the financial services to the poor. And that is resulting in a change in the mindset and in helping improve incomes in the rural areas.
So, the short point that I'm trying to make is that while basic fundamental issues with regard to Internet Governance are important, what we need at this forum and some of the other forums that we have is to create a framework in which such initiatives which are being developed worldwide are shared across and are made available to ensure that Internet becomes more inclusive, Internet becomes more relevant, and Internet is able to drive the social change for which it has the potential.
And this would require coming together of minds, coming together of initiatives, which I would say that they are available. And similar initiatives across the world. So the IGF and such forums should provide a mechanism for sharing perspectives, knowledge and information, and to ensure that together as a world we benefit from the Internet and we take it forward in the right direction.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you for giving perspectives on what is happening in the Indian context.
Now I'd like to open the floor for questions or any intervention or adding flavor by way of experience of other countries. We do have some time. And I would like to invite people. Yes, sir? I request you to indicate your name and the organisation that you represent. And the question that you are directing to which particular panel speaker so they can intervene. Only Ms. Graciela has gone on to some other, so I hope we will be able to pick it up.
>> My name is Chris Vargas from the Internet Society. And thank you very much for the talks. And I think it's important that we give the perspective from Africa as a reflection of this global situation of access and diversity.
The first speaker, Graciela, she mentioned disposable income. She said 4.6 percent of average disposable income is spent on ICTs. Extensive research in Africa shows that figure is 40.1 percent. We talk about an ICT basket of goods. It's 41 percent. And obviously for rural people, the proportion is so much higher.
The other important point is Africa has sub marine cable, and we have seen international bandwidth decline from about 10 thousand dollars per meg with satellites to coming down to 600 to 300 dollars per meg for international bandwidth. So change is taking place. But why do we still have this high cost of the ICT basket of goods? And it's all to do with terrestrial backbone networks, and the monopolies over these terrestrial backbone networks.
And, for example, in Europe and the U.S, one can purchase a T1 for around about five to ten dollars a month, whereas in South Africa or in Africa in general, we're paying between $300 to $400 per month. So structurally we have major issues in terms of costs, which is why Internet penetration in Africa remains at 4 to 5 percent on average throughout the continent.
Then we talk about mobile penetration. And some figures for South Africa, we have 5 and a half million mobile subscribers, which is fantastic. But compare that to fixed line subscribers, less than half a million. So you can see there are tremendous distortions in our market. And if one looks at the market, we can see that competent tension is really the driving force between the marine cost of mobile. And as with the fixed backbone market, we have government monopolies and artificially fixed prices.
And something that I wanted to mention for Africa, which none of the speakers mentioned, is the issue of power. Power. It's power. With our power, we don't have ICTs.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you, sir. You did give us a flavor into Africa. I'm sure that as participants you have heard quite a bit about the impetus which is in operation in Kenya and large parts of Africa. We always would like to learn about them. The forums give the opportunity to exchange views and information.
>> Thank you for giving me this opportunity and thank you for the excellent presentations.
My name is Malilek and I work for the Research and Education Office of Kenya, called KenEd.
And I'm interested in learning a bit more about the Net neutrality issues. It seems to have been left out. And the closest we came is one of you said that you know that there are governance issues for all the networks that we are putting in place. And he didn't elaborate. I can't remember who it was. And I just wanted to know what those are.
We have serious problems in Kenya in the Government of least alliance and all the access to the fiber optical networks for broadband. And I just wanted to hear what you have in mind.
I was curious about the statement that there is no digital divide. You know that the term "Digital divide" is overused. And what we are lacking is lack of value add in probably having a global perspective. I really have wanted to hear a bit more about that.
Because all governments focus on flattening the digital divide, and what I hear you say is that what we should really be focusing on is what are we using it for? What value are we adding into the economy, not just having it at a low cost.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you. I'd like for us to talk on this question.
>> KLAUS STOLL: I will try to answer your second part. We talked about multi-partner -- multisector partnerships. I hardly see them working. It's the social sector who doesn't allow the others to make money or the government who doesn't want interference from the social sector. And the point is simple. We have to accept that Internet access bandwidths cost money. Infrastructure costs money.
And in order to have the right of access, we also have to find ways to finance the whole thing. It's wonderful and it's great and I'm the first one to say it's a Human Rights of access, but we have to think about the human right of creating value and having to generate value to get food on the table.
That brings me to the point of value added. The point is I find it very, very, very frustrating if you have access and you use it for things which actually do not put food on the table.
I'll give you an example from Latin America. The Amazon nowadays is one of the best connected areas in the world, thanks to people like Carlos Affonso from Brazil and others. But for people to get data for the drilling fields only, that's a bad example.
Echo tourism -- just to go to a travel agent and to book something, the people earning the money is the airline and the travel agent. And the ecolodge just survives. What a lot of lodges are doing in Latin America is they are creating customers over the Internet. They talk to them via Skype. People are coming there, informed about the community, long before they go and long after they left.
And there is a value added and the people are quite happy to pay a premium. And there are many, many examples where that strategic use, that value added can be generated. And a lodge which generates $10,000 a month more because of the Internet is very happy to pay $100 for the infrastructure to get it in.
And there are different levels. It works with small and medium enterprises. A simple example is with fish mongers in Ecuador. The lady who makes a turnover of about 2 or 3 dollars a day, it makes a difference of having to go into town to find the people in the town or to pay for the Internet and they sell the catch over the Internet. It makes a hell of a lot of difference. What does it cost? Pennies. For them, it makes a difference of a dollar or a dollar 5 a day, and it costs them 3 cents. It's all scalable.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you. I think the aspect of net neutrality is to be properly added.
But I'll take any other questions before I ask Venkat to answer that.
>> I'm Phillip Adan. I work for Nokia Siemens. I'm attending this for the first time as an ambassador, but my question is from my personal perspective. I've had a lot of contributions from the panelists which is very good and very innovative, and my question would have gone to the first speaker, even though she left, but I'm sure maybe, maybe someone among the panelists or anyone in the room can help us enlighten some of the questions that I have in mind.
Now, in talking about broadband Internet access, mostly in developing countries like sub Sahara and Africa, this is offered primarily through the GSM cellular communication networks. But looking at the service providers, what we see on the ground is that communication is normally provided to areas where there is perceived to be mobile users who have money to spend. What I mean is that mobile communication is concentrated so much on the town centres and areas where there are huge populations. That means at the end of the day, there are pockets of populations or areas within the societies which do not have access, mobile or broadband. Does that mean that broadband will still have to follow through mobile communication infrastructure sites?
Or in the policy framework, what can the governments do to make sure that there is at least some kind of building between providing mobile infrastructure access and providing cellular communication services for phone calls?
Now, the next question goes hand in hand with that. Over the years, mobile communication has actually continued to mature and we realise that there is a lot of development taking place. And the quality that the end-users experience is actually acceptable.
But this is not the case with mostly broadband networks. Broadband networks still experience poor quality of services but there is very little emphasis from the telecommunication regulators and the government to emphasize the need for quality. People are actually having to do with what they have instead of having nothing. Is there something that we can develop probably from the frameworks of policy in governments and Civil Societies and other stakeholders within the industry to make sure that quality of broadband be access is also given a preference?
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you. And are there any other questions? I'd like to take all the questions before I request a panelist to answer. Yes, sir?
>> Good afternoon. My name is M. Yaga from the consorting partners in Nairobi.
My question is to Abhishek Singh. From the experience in India, how have you dealt with the eGovernance aspect of the telecentres? Because one of the things I see a lot is the assumption that the telecentres will be used to provide faster, easier access to go. Services to local communities. But what I found in Kenya is the cost of that service, when they do walk into the digital area or telecentre, is prohibitively high. As pointed out, infrastructure has a cost. There is a financial issue that wears it down. How does a government provide the infrastructure, the telecentres, and make those services available without compromising the competitive nature of the cyber cafes and for the villages?
Is there a way for the private sector to partner with the public sector, to put those kinds of facilities in place, but remain commercially viable in the long-term?
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Any others? Yes, sir.
>> My name is David Simbere. I work for a company called Lex Tech Technologies that develop software. The question is straightforward. Gracela, who left, mentioned something about disabilities. Is there a place where if you're a developer for software that you can get standards that tell you how you should develop your software, whether it's web-based? Are there standards that somebody can use to adhere to this? And where would somebody find those standards? Thank you.
>> I'm representing here ISOC. I'm Rabib. Infrastructure is the major part that everyone knows to improve the access in rural areas. And the competition between the mobile service providers, there is most of the private business companies, they only want to go in a populated area. And those areas even in India and Nepal and Pakistan and the rest of of the region, most of the rural areas do not have access of mobile coverage.
And I had one project in Modrakapradish of India that we have built a wireless network. After a while, six months, I get a report that the -- our wireless network has not been used and our data centre Web server is not used by people since the last six months, and what sort of things do we have to do?
Then I just went there and collected data. And I saw there that the heat of Facebook through the network is more than 30,000 a day. But their legal server has less than 30 hits per day. So what is the problem there?
The question is, access is there, but they are worrying about their content is not being accessed by the people and they are saying that they are not the users. The server is not accessing by the users. But there is a Facebook, they are accessing 30,000 hits per day. So what are the things of that?
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Are there anymore questions? Otherwise, I'll ask all the panelists to pool the questions. There is a question out standing on net neutrality. The Nokia Seimens talked about mobile Internet and other infrastructureal issues. Web accessibility or disability issues were brought to the fore. EGovernance issues were brought to the fore and the last intervention related to the Facebook versus other aspects of it.
Now I would like to divide it into three components. Venkat focus on the Net neutrality and some of the aspects which were raised. And then Klaus I would like you to respond to some of the things, because I could see the excitement in you.
And Abhishek Singh a question was directed to you specific to eGovernance. And some of the issues, which is at the grass-roots level because it touches upon your telecentre or kiosk, which has not been as popular as the Facebook. So all of them.
We will go to you Venkat.
>> VENKATESH HARIHARAN: That is not an issue that we have in India. Thanks to the policymakers in India, that is not a burning issue.
But your question I want to touch on. If you look at what is happening, it's a sad issue of how do you manage the content and how do you regulate that? And you have requests from authorities to take down content, you are requested from people to take down content, and at the same time you try to follow the due processes of law. So, you know, our challenge has been how do we balance the rights of the users and how do we balance the request from law enforcement data authorities? And we have seen this as a global issue. And I think what has been happening across the world, I think no matter how much you discuss this issue, how do you balance the user rights with the law enforcement requests and requests of people to take down content? The answer again comes down to the due process of law.
It's tempting for policymakers and authorities to say that, you know, we will take some shortcuts and try to circumvent the due process of law. But I think the challenge with that kind of approach is that while we are putting the pipes in place and the networks in place, if the content is not managed through the due process of law, then there is a difficult policy for platforms, service providers, for blogs, for, you know, online video, social media companies on the Net. So then there is a lot of uncertainty. That becomes a lot of -- that becomes a big challenge for the companies to manage.
And then if you look at basically platforms and end-users, we don't like to insert identity. So that, I think, I'm sorry that I'm inviting some of the questions, I'm sorry that I'm avoiding some of the question, but that's the answer.
>> KLAUS STOLL: Why don't you say that the content is completely irrelevant? And what a service provider needs to do is simply to find the relevant services for community, and what is relevant is quite simply what makes a community as an individual, as a family, healthier and wealthier. And once you have these two instruments, this is something that I don't understand. Yes, I'm a telecommunication company and I want to access a rural area. But I don't want to work with a social sector or with somebody local together to get the reason for the people to access my services.
That seems to me very, very logical, but I see it, very very rarely. Look for the applications which makes the people in that community healthier and wealthier and you've got a very good business model.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Sunil worked hard to push the government to work on disability issues and Web accessibility. So Sunil?
>> SUNIL ABRAHAM: Quickly to answer the question, it's hugely important in countries like India if you have text to voice and voice to text technologies. It's not just the percent of people that are disabled that we are worried about. It's about the people who will become older and then become disabled. So, the places you should go to are a W3C for the Web content accessibility guideline. That is the most important guideline on building accessible applications -- Web applications. And the Indian government published an electronic accessibility policy, and I hope that other governments will also do that. The centre for Internet and policy produced an E accessibility handbook. And I'll put that on the Twitter feed and you can download it there.
And I'll put out a lead to a community called vision impaired planet. You can build the application and ask the vision impaired community to test the product.
I think what we are seeing in developed economies is the emergence of a technical definition of what constitutes network neutrality. And perhaps it works in those economies because of high broadband penetration, et cetera. It is easier for them to come up with a technical definition. In developing nations, where in India only 12 million have broadband and perhaps Wikipedia and Facebook entered into cooperation with the local Telco and then they are able to give some kind of guarded access, some people from developed economies say well, that is not network neutrality. I think in India and in other developing countries we have to focus on a consumer centric and perhaps a competition law centric definition of network neutrality.
If two large companies are obviously engaging in antitrust behavior, then we have a competition Commission. And the competition Commission can address that. We don't have to develop very complicated technical regimes to deal with the network neutrality.
I hope that answers the question.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: Thank you, Klaus and Sunil and Venkat.
Now, please round it up with the specific question on eGovernment.
>> ABHISHEK SINGH: The observation that you made is that how do you ensure that such kiosks are viable and the public is excited to gain access?
We have had a major challenge in order to assure that the centres that we are setting up in the rural areas are viable. Many of them had to close shop because they could not make them viable. But if the biggest majority, which are piping in most services, to ensure that they make money, they run into profits.
And the other challenges, which you ask how does government ensure the request of government services, that is not high.
There was a clause in the contract which said that the cost of accessing public services would be for the good of the government. They are allowed to look at private and public services. The cost of public services was regulated and kept at a reasonable level. So that way citizens who access services are not inconvenienced. And the private player who was running the services, he made more money by pushing in services which are in demand. So that is how this is accessible.
>> N RAVI SHANKER: I think governments will have to make investments to ensure that the way in which water supplies, sanitation, road networks, and elementary education have benefited by public investment, broadband also has to come aboard in a like manner, whether it's optical fiber network to the villages or to smaller towns. All your mobile Broadband through the spectrum money went to 3G and the like. I think this calls for a high degree of government intervention. We have seen countries across the globe, developed and developing, embarking on similar conclusions.
I would just like to mention that in India we do have something called a national knowledge network, which is a big network connecting 15 institutions of higher learning and research across the country. It's a 2 GBPS to 10 and above. Now, that is for democratizing education.
Another level is the National Wireless Network. This is to connect villages across all of India. All villages would take 3 to 4 years to build up the network. The idea is that villages would have access.
And someone from Nepal answers this question, once you have broadband, the intention is to have it at 2 MBPS. We should have services available. And this may be competition.
So I think that there are interesting times. And there is no escaping the fact that public investments are needed. And you have to make sure that you drive public investment, and the remaining private sector participation comes at a later level in time.
I think the new things, the basic cost of the consumer, that drives the development of the mobile networks. And, similarly, we will ensure that there is an emphasis in the presentation by the representative of Brazil. It's fairly costly. I think we have to bring down cost for broadband so we can still it out. One dent will come with only one that is in demand. So the more amount of broadband available, the more amount of content will be developed. We have to see broadband available to all. We should all work towards this.
Institutional and legal or regulative frameworks can follow. But we need to have the basic infrastructure in place.
I would also like to thank our host and sponsor of this particular panel workshop. And, doctor, for all the efforts to put up a panel here.
I want to thank you and all the participants here. Thank you very much.
(End of session,12:40 p.m.)