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Global coalition revises benchmark for internet affordability

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TheAlliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has urged governments across the globe to ensure the cost of 5GB of broadband, both mobile and fixed, is no more than 2% of the average monthly income by 2026.

This is in line with the A4AI’s revised targets to ensure affordable internet connectivity for all.

Hosted by the World Wide Web Foundation, A4AI is the global coalition that aims to drive down the cost of internet access in low- and middle-income countries through policy and regulatory reform.

In terms of the initialaffordability threshold of ‘1 for 2’, A4AI campaigned for the cost of 1GB data to not exceed more than 2% of the average monthly income.

Now, through its new policy, the global coalition says this is no longer enough, and has embarked on a journey it describes as ‘1 to 5’.

“The journey from 1 to 5 raises the ambition to increase the affordability of data at scale from first experiences online for billions of people across the globe to a sustainable minimum for people to come online and stay online for work, school and community,” says A4AI executive director Sonia Jorge.

The A4AI says while 1GB of data might have been sufficient to meet internet users' needs five years ago, today this package is severely limiting and in five years’ time it will be wholly inadequate.

Despite this, A4AI says it will continue its price benchmarking work in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union to collect the affordability of 1GB, 2GB and 5GB mobile broadband and 5GB fixed broadband in over 200 countries and economies across the globe.

These three price points – 1GB, 2GB and 5GB – will form the bedrock of A4AI’s strategy for measuring affordability and setting targets for the future, it states.

The affordability of 1GB of mobile broadband and the original ‘1 for 2’ target will continue to be an important part of A4AI’s strategy, and will now be used as a reference point for the affordability of mobile broadband across income groups.

“This is an important dynamic to keep in mind for countries like South Africa, which has reached the ‘1 for 2’ nationally, with data at 1.4% of the average national income, but still remains out of reach for millions as the same cost represents nearly 12% of the average monthly income for the poorest 20% of South Africans.”

Eleanor Sarpong, A4AI deputy director and policy lead, adds: “This transition to sub-national income groups as a point of comparative analysis will enable A4AI to better advocate for inclusive universal affordability. That means truly no one is left behind because of the cost of connectivity.”

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