IGF 2018 - Day 2 - Salle VIII - NRI Session on Access beyond Mere Connectivity

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, France, from 12 to 14 November 2018. 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 event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 



>> MODERATOR:  Morning, everyone.  Good morning, everyone.  Good morning.  People.  Who are the speakers here?

Please raise their hands.  One, two, three.  Five.  Okay.  We are a little bit spread.  Let's get together in the center, actually, if it's possible.  Okay?

     >> MODERATOR:  Hello.  Is it working?  Are you hearing?

Okay.  Good morning.  I'm Venice.  I will be moderating the session.  We tried to find a better person, but it was impossible.  Sorry for that.  As far as I know, we have McKenna here.  We have William from the Columbia IGF.  We have Jennifer from the Asia Pacific IGF.  Am I missing someone?

Of course, I'll be fired.  Flavia from the Brazilian IGF.  And say your name in the microphone. 

     >> AUDIENCE:   This is Paola. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Okay.  So we have a session with many speakers.  That's good.  Okay. 

He's not speaking. 

So this is the session on access beyond mere connectivity.  Missing the correct title.  And we set this session among the NRIs.  So we have many of them here who just work together to put up this session.  And we have a proposal together with many policy questions and many issues that we discussed through the NRI's list.  I just read the policy questions we have for this session, and then I will pass it for the speakers. 

So this session will deal with what are the main persistent challenges related to connectivity and internet in local context.  Two, what is the current status of internet presence, distribution in your region and how the Stakeholder contributes.  Within your local context in a method of framing, what practices can be observed in the use of the internet and how the impact effects transform realities.  We have a big one about the rural areas.  So what situations do you have to face to achieve the implementation and sustainability of the network?  So we have this policy questions.  The speakers here already know the policy questions because we're working together on them.  I'll just pass the word for them.  Do you want to volunteer?

We can start with him, and then I'll be passing it to others.  Around five minutes. 

     >> Thank you.  My name is McKenny from the African forum.  For Africa to participate.  Africa currently has the fastest growing population of internet users.  And affording to ITU sources, the number of individuals using the internet has been growing steadily estimated 25% in the last ten years.  In a study, Africa has issued over 1 million IP addresses over the past 10 years and working with internet Stakeholders to drive IP deployment and preparedness.  The study was undertaken also by the internet society bureau.  Where it was indicated that about one‑third of Africans have access to the internet.  And that internet contributed to the GDP up to 1.1%. 

The access are as follows.  80% of worldwide mobile users are in Africa.  On mobile payment, on movies, on healthcare and renewable energy.  And the challenges are that internet businesses are not growing as fast and big in the developed world.  In the study indicated there are businesses in Africa was just 1%.  And this was due to the fact two businesses don't use email and one in three businesses don't have website. 

We have the roadblocks to end the presentation.  Issues that impact ability to start new businesses.  Innovation and entrepreneurship and capital.  Online businesses, the condition for online business offerings access and cost of access that is fitting in some countries.  Internet down sometimes, security, privacy, monetization.  And the business when we look at it online or off line, African countries are very low in doing business.  Thank you, Mr. Moderator. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Anybody else?


     >> AUDIENCE:   Thank you very much.  My name is William Casos Buenos talking on behalf of the Columbia IGF.  Our contribution in the session will be to share the different views from the Stakeholders that participated in our last meeting in September this year when we discussed the digital cap and rural access.  So we found that ‑‑ and tried to cluster the challenges and obstacles to regulation, infrastructure, sustainability and organizational models based especially in community networks.  We had the participation from the private sector governments, society, academia.  Regardless regulation, there is an opportunity at this moment to analyze a new bill for the ICT sector that is under discussion to introduce proposals that can increase the benefit and social impact through especially the spectrum access and management.  Regulation is very hard in terms of quality of services in Columbia and the private companies has obstacles to implement or extend their services to these areas where, for instance, the power generation is complex. 

So the chances of being fined are high on the availability of service.  A proper regulation can provide easy access to spectrum that is not used in rural areas and a key factor for the deployment of community networks.  Facilitating implementation of pilot projects to evaluate the regulation needed for the deployment of community networks into a frame of legality is also an issue.  The finding community networks as a not for profit initiatives that connect communities at affordable cost, it is a common of the community who is responsible for its design implementation and sustainability. 

Regarding infrastructure, the Columbia IGF thinks it's important to combine different technologies that are more suitable for different situations in rural areas.  Bringing broadband to rural areas and use technology that warrant disability of the networks is very important.  This includes the use of solar energy to avoid costs of energy that are very common in that area.  Sharing infrastructure, also a key issue especially for this area. 

Regarding sustainability, the involvement of the community in the design, implementation and operation of the networks is a key factor for success.  Community needs to feel they are a part of these initiatives in order to get appropriated of the projects.  Local content is also very important.  Contents and open data that are of interest for the community and that not require external internet access to be accessed.  It is important to think in another way of the infrastructure looking into new technologies like networks and software and hardware.  The models should be designed not to depend and subsidize to guarantee their sustainability.  It's common that those projects that are based in subsidized fails, because it's not value by the community when they see the value having the service they need to improve the quality of life.  It's important to have different regulation models and think about how to make themselves sustainable.  It's important the projects consider a good component on appropriation for the communities.  To be more productive and efficient, and communities from Universities and private companies.  In example, not working hours.  And reduce access cost to infrastructure. 

For instance, in Columbia on urban areas to extend the connectivity and the areas. 

Finally, you should not only measure the return of economic investments, you should also consider the social return of investment.  Universal access funds should facilitate access to their resources and leverage these projects especially in rural areas.  Regarding organizational models, it's important to define what the real needs of the users.  Identify the demands and create models.  Important to ‑‑ can be linked to multiple stakeholders in rural areas.  Thank you. 

     >> MODERATOR:  We have next volunteer to speak.  Dustin. 

     >> Mostly focused on the third policy question about the multi‑dimensional framing.  We really took a wholistic approach to the discussion at the IGF USA, and we brought in as many people as we could from different perspectives from people operating community networks, both in urban and rural areas to the large ISPs.  We brought in city government officials and federal government officials as well as academics, non‑profits and libraries to discuss different solutions to address the connectivity issue that is still an issue in the U.S.

I think one problem that we have within the U.S. is that most people having these discussions in internet governance base take for granted that they have connectivity and forget that even in urban areas, there are a lot of people that don't have access to the internet.  And especially when you look at the indigenous reservations and the land in the U.S., they have some huge connectivity issues that aren't just limited to access to the internet but also other infrastructure like a power, for example, electricity. 

But we went beyond the discussion of providing access to discuss, of course, the importance of capacity development and digital literacy but also focusing on ensuring that that connectivity and digital literacy can actually be applied and used in a way that benefits the people and community that are being connected.  So we focused on the different services and opportunities that are made available that will increase the value of the connectivity and justify more programs and get more interest in continuing to spread that connectivity to the rural and indigenous areas as well as some of the inner city and urban areas where in some of the major cities in the U.S., there's still 40% of the city without access to the internet.  Detroit, specifically.  So we had all of these different approaches. 

So it's hard to come away with one or several solutions.  But ultimately, what we focus on is the need for each solution to consult the community it's working in and identify the needs and what services it will benefit from.  What capacity development is needed not only to deploy the network but also to use the network and to build services on top of that.  And ultimately, if we had to sum this up into one idea, it's that the people in the communities need to be at the center of bringing this connectivity to those unconnected.  Otherwise, it's not going to ensure that they receive all of the benefits while also having their culture and the local needs respected. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Dustin.  Sorry for the confusion.  We are experiencing problems with the remote participation.  We have Roberto trying to participate remotely.  And we are not being able to set it yet.  But we are trying, okay?

If you are listening to us, we are trying to make it viable for you to speak remotely.  Thank you those that spoke.  Do we have another volunteer now?


     >> Morning, everyone.  I want to thank to the IGF organization for opening this space for sharing experience.  And I think it's important to start by justifying why in Brazil to talk about internet access.  We have to talk about zero rating and consequently net neutrality.  Whether it's in Latin America or in USA, the concerns about net neutrality have been justified by the recent events.  Even if multiple countries from Latin America search ‑‑ have their law which guarantee net neutrality, as we saw on the last two additions of IGF, it won't have enough.  Zero rate in commercial practices always associated with mobile devices were adopted in Latin America as we can conclude with the research in 2017.  These have represented a tract to the neutrality recognition as a right and consequently have also been threatening the keeping of the internet as open resource compromising the digital inclusion and innovation.  The justification for the acceptance of zero-rating plans by governments and regulator is the lack of road bands infrastructure and the significant challenge of investments we face.  However, for the companies, the zero rating has been a valuable commercial strategy to monetize the scarcity.  Moreover, for personnel data in big scale exploring them base it on algorithmic business. 

This practice discriminates data package according to application in case ‑‑ the plans with zero rating practices have been representing the disrespect toward the service principle which in Brazil is established by our law about internet.  As a consequence of recognizing the internet and essential service.  At the same time, there is a drawback considering the balance between what we see including our personal data and economic profit.  As you can see in the research, the major part of lower social classes, 80% access the internet is exclusively by mobile devices. 

According to Brazil, the regulatory agency in Brazil, there are 220 million connections and 190 are through cell phones.  Also, the zero-rating practice has had the effect of accommodating governments when it comes to formulating public policies that promote not only the universal of the infrastructure but also the internet access service.  It's important to emphasize the lack of transparency when it comes to contract application providers and connectivity providers that have a huge impact on the competition law because those companies control the connection service but to also offer application services. 

In Brazil, unfortunately, regulation has established a system with the participation of CGI.  The fact is that there's no monitoring or even replenishment or violations of net neutrality. 

Finally, we must pay attention to the debates now taking place.  That do not operate in a moot Stakeholder system to regulate common services.  Therefore, a risk that the regulation of internet services will be marked by commercial interest with less discussion about fundamental rights which would be considerable loss that goes against what was established in the declaration signed by over 110 countries at the meeting held in April 2014 in Brazil.  And I represent the society.  Thank you for the attention. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  If I'm not mistaken, we still have Mary, Jennifer, Abbu and ‑‑ okay, so three.  And Roberto in the online.  So maybe have Mr. Roberto from the online participation.

     >> Can you hear me?

     >> MODERATOR:  We can hear you. 

     >> I wonder if we can hear you. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Someone write in the chat that we can hear him. 

     >> I think I have it muted.  I don't know if you can hear me. 

First of all, good morning to everybody.  The main challenge remains to achieve the connectivity which means deploying infrastructure which to date has a lot thanks to the mobile communications.  But still maintains a business model for internet services which is affordable for the majority.  Let me explain a bit about it.  A large number of people have mobile devices.  Most of the devices are intelligent and capable of accessing internet services.  With recent technologies such as LTE advancement which allows speeds of several megabytes per second.  However, the problem is the service is still paid for units of information transmitted.  So that's megabyte packages. 

The user of this service can barely have a sufficient budget that allows them to access a few megabytes per day that may be enough to use applications to access of social networks.  But it is impossible this type of service allows them to access other content to educate themselves to work to access the government service or ultimately to entertain themselves.  It is ironic that the practices of zero rating are not the real threat to the net neutrality.  But are these obsolete models of internet services which force and conditions the users to use a small variety of services and content.  And that definitely does not mean being fully connected to internet. 

In this aspect, the multi‑stakeholder is still in the process of maturing so it becomes an influential instance of public policy on the internet.  At least, that is what is happening in my country.  Still, the dialogue and decisions are made between the two main actors, the government and the ISPs.  However, the voice of the citizens is growing more and more every day.  And we recently had our first IGF last year, we believe the demands of the community have been effectively channelized and little by little, we're aware of these issues.  We believe that our second IGF which is come nothing a few weeks will put demands on the ISPs and also in the government.  And we hope this positive influence will continue to be effective. 

Internet is no longer the space which was believed as a piloter space to the environment we live.  The internet has become a part of our own environment where we develop and live through the internet, we learn and work and access public services, we entertain ourselves or even fall in love, in some cases.  So the impact of being disconnected from the internet is high and today generates a huge gap between those net connected along with those who are.  Thank you very much. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Roberto.  Okay.  Can you write on the chat just thanking him, please?  Okay.  So he's not hearing us anymore. 

So we have Nepal, Nigeria and Asia Pacific.  Jennifer.  Okay.  Let's try to speed up.  We are just running out of time. 

     >> Thank you.  My name is Jennifer.  I'm part of the secretary for the Asia Pacific IGF.  This year, we were hosted for the very first time in the Pacific region in the beautiful city of Port Villa.  It's a diverse region not only culturally and Langley but diverse in terms of geography.  We were close and intimate with the challenges and opportunities with the small island developing states. 

So a few key points especially on terms of connectivity and access and beyond that is the unique geography of the small island developing states.  The connectivity becomes a major barrier to access especially in these developing states and for countries who experience many cyclones in a year and they experience 10 to over 50 earthquakes per day, some are felt, some are not felt, this is a pretty big problem.  One of the big cyclones they experienced in the area this year actually had an impact of over 62% of the GDP for the year.  So these vulnerabilities are real. 

There's trillions of dollars that impact disasters that cost Asia.  This impact is very real on a real level and budgetary level.  For cost and sustainability, there is immense opportunities.  For the very first time in 2017, we had more than 50% of the world's users in our region.  Actually, only less than 50% of the people in our region are connected to the internet.  So this potential really calls for reliable robust and high‑speed access to the internet in order to be able to access in this digital age.  Enable being access is not only building infrastructure, it also refers to other aspects such as access to follow and information.  The afford ability of this access.  The accessibility of this access and digital literacy. 

We talked about the use of emerging low‑cost network solutions such as the community networks which not only provide access but also empower local communities to become an active part of operations.  The provision of this access should be backed by local content and demand‑driven solutions that propel the solutions in the region and the country.  So it was called for that in the Pacific subregion that governments should be encouraged to play a more assistive role in creating and enabling policy environment to give business incentives and expanding the access.  Access and connectivity is a really big part in Vanuatu.  We were having the youth join us during the regional IGF for the youth IGF.  To them, internet is something that's not experienced every day.  They have this concept that perhaps it's something to do with platforms.  More often than not, hand in hand not only providing access, providing meaningful capacity building opportunities for local communities is really the key point here.  Thank you. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jennifer.  We have Mary. 

     >> Thank you.  Yeah, I'll go straight to the point of West Africa as well as my country Nigeria.  I'm Mary and coordinate the governance forum as well as the Nigeria governance forum.  For us this year in 2018 for West Africa, we're looking at ‑‑ we held our meeting in one of the remotest countries or one of the low‑income countries.  The topic was emerging in West Africa.  I'll only talk about the access what we told members and what we encourage members to do. 

We said on access and infrastructure.  We urge our member states to implement the universal access so where you have collected money should be implemented and the connected.  That's one of the things we encourage them.  And we also looked at interconnection of the networks within the region, so our people will have access to the internet.  So there's also the regulation that they have come up with so we can have one network.  And international fiber optics to be linked to those so when ‑‑ so it's just beyond connectivity access.  And that to invest on infrastructure internet exchange point to have access and data exchange regularly.  These are things we talked about on the infrastructure. 

At our local level, Nigeria, after our national IGF, we also did what we call the women IGF and inclusion.  It was only for women.  And those women that are marginalized.  Most of them from the northern side of our country where there are problems and IDPs.  So one of the things that came up was that there was the issue of languages.  The language is an issue.  So the women were asking how can we be connected with pictures so when we press since we cannot type in English, the manufacturers will challenge to bring out access.  Also, the level of literacy.  Literacy level is low, so it affects connectivity. 

Some said they have witnessed divorced because a woman posted her picture on Facebook.  So it's not allowed.  So these are things ‑‑ the digital literacy.  They emphasized that issue. 

And another thing was the adjacent infrastructure.  Power.  Even when the internet is available in your area, then it's not accessible. 

So for national IGF, we're looking at internet for catalyst for good governance.  And good governance is only way you share information from government to the people.  People will know it's good governance.  So let's use information to share to open up and be able to challenge the rulers, the leaders.  So those are some of the things we talked about beyond mere connectivity, there are other things.  Thank you. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Mary.  And thank you for remembering the focus of this session. 

We have Nepal. 

     >> Thank you.  I'll go very briefly on the points.  First, one of the most critical in Nepal.  58% is high mountain plus 25% high Himalayas covered by snow and only 17% plainland.  So very difficult issue in our geography.  Literacy is another issue we have.  We have local content online.  Very less e‑commerce and very less use economic instances from ‑‑ people are not coming into online.  That is out of the issue.  We have a number of taxes on internet service.  We have USF, 13% tax, 13% telecommunication service charge started this year.  Import of band width around 36% taxes.  That made expensive use of internet in Nepal.  So this is another issue causing harm.  Essentially, we had survey on accessing ability.  Only around 19% of person with disability know about the internet.  It's not about the using of internet.  Just by 19% around person with disabilities.  So these kind of things are pertinent. 

We're talking about the presence of internet.  Around 85% are used through mobile communications including some city areas.  And around 10% only meaningful broad band by service providers.  And we have cultural diversity.  More than 100 linguistic community groups.  With that also not able to get into that connection.  So this is an area of this.  And last year we started bringing more into this platform.  More than 190% in‑person participation.  And out of them also on ‑‑ participating in that discourse and transgender people also joined this.  It was very nice to have them.  And because of this will definitely contribute into the access in the future as well.  Thank you. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Nepal.  So I think ‑‑ am I missing someone?  Are you speaking?

     >> I said I wasn't going to speak, but I'll speak quickly.  I'm from Namibia.  We could quite easily have almost all of our citizens connected and have access.  It's not a technology issue.  What we struggle with is having legislative and policy framework that allows the different players to participate and to create those access points.  The mobile operators have a big voice and stifle innovation in the policy process.  It's not really about money.  We seem able to fund other infrastructure projects.  We build massive ports, massive airports, road infrastructures but we don't focus on the back hole.  There's a belief this should be left with the private sector. 

If it's there, the last mile can be easily addressed with the community networks and other players.  So we're really failing our citizens in getting them connected.  We really need focus.  We have policies.  We have some good policies.  They are not really implemented.  So I think it is easy for us to achieve 100% inclusivity but we need to change the way we think and need our government and policy makers to have a better understanding of what we're trying to achieve and the benefits this brings to the citizens to make this happen and a reality. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  So we have many speeches here and it was very, very good, I think.  Many things regarding infrastructure, community networks and access, in general, in a broad view.  And in the digital practices around these environments.  So I think it was a very good set of presentations we had now. 

So we have still some minutes for the session.  So do we have any questions from the audience?

Yes, first question.  We will have questions and I can pass to you all to make some final remarks and answer the questions and we end the session.  Thank you. 

     >> AUDIENCE:   Hi.  I'm from Brazil.  My question is for Mary.  In Brazil, we have a huge number of persons who don't have access to internet and caused by several things like physical barriers and social barriers.  You said that in your country internet is viable but not as accessible.  So I would like you to talk a little more about this.  What is the huge barrier in your country.  The social access or the physical barriers and how internet governance can help face this problem. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Any more questions?  No?

Okay.  Thank you.  So please, final remarks and answering the questions.  Mary, first. 

     >> All right.  Thank you very much.  In my speech, I said internet may be available but not accessible because the adjacent infrastructure to charge your device might not be there.  You don't have power, that's energy, electricity.  So that's what I mean.  I said infrastructure.  Because to access the internet, you need electricity.  If there's no power, the internet might be available in your area, but you can't charge your device, so you can't hook on to the internet.  That's what I mean by that.  Then there's also the cultural barrier. 

The cultural, some women may not be allowed to access the internet.  I have another person from Nigeria who lives in the north and can explain it better.  Husbands don't allow their wives to be seen so you don't have access.  They believe internet will expose you.  So you are covered.  So that's the cultural barrier.  I talked about the physical barrier that internet is not available at all.  So there's no broad band or no internet access.  Over 40% of Nigerians have access to the internet but using the mobile broad band.  But the fixed broad band is not there.  So those are physical barriers.  I don't know if that answered your question.  Thanks. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Well, I will let the speakers volunteer to make final remarks and we just end the session.  We have about four minutes to the end of the session.  So whoever ‑‑

     >> AUDIENCE:   I want to ask a question.  What are we taking away from here, from this session?

What is it that we are taking away that we can share in our own environment?  How have you solved particular problem in your own environment?

     >> AUDIENCE:   I just want to make a compliment.  I would like to highlight that the preponderance of Facebook which act as monopoly has been compromising the cultural diversity in our country and Latin America also.  Because we rest as a prisoner of the algorithm of the Facebook and the page in Facebook.  Then I think it's important to discuss the power of the great platforms. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Anyone else?  Babu. 

     >> AUDIENCE:   We talk about new technology and a country like Nepal having geographical landscape, we explore new technology in this.  We have been talking about space.  We have any experience that used the space and contributed to our country like that?

     >> MODERATOR:  You are entitled to talk about this. 

     >> We just implement TV wide space in Columbia in community network.  And we have too many mountains in rural areas.  We found out this technology really contributes to get to those difficult areas.  And, also, from all the auto participants, I believe that it's important to consider community networks as alternative to get connected to those that are not yet connected.  It's already more than 20 years that we see they are not concrete opportunities for them even if the technology has been evolving in the last years with free software and hardware.  We believe that working with the community, identifying with them, the signing with them the networks, they can get their own connectivity.  Thank you. 

     >> MODERATOR:  Okay. 

     >> Just two things.  One, we can take this conversation offline.  My role is I'm a TV wide space across countries.  My take away from this is we need our citizens to know that spectrum belongs to the people, it doesn't belong to the government. And we need to educate our people on their digital rights, so they start demanding more strongly access. 

     >> MODERATOR:  We are out of time.  I will kindly ask for you to take this offline and we can have good conversations offline. 

Thank you for the speakers and for the audience.  Thank you for the secretary to make it possible to keep this session.  It was very different to put it on.  So thanks for all.  And that's it.  End of the session.  Thank you.  Bye.