Connectivity is key as G20 commit to internet access for all

technology, International | Marie Escaich on April 12, 2017

For the first time in G20 history, ministers for digital economy met in Dusseldorf in preparation for July’s main summit in Hamburg. In recognition of the critical role played by the internet in both business and public life, the German federal government has declared that digitalisation is to be one of the key areas of focus of the country’s G20 presidency this year.

At the two-day conference, the ministers met under the banner “Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future” to outline the strategy to digitally enable their citizens and businesses and to close the global connectivity divide.

The main target agreed at the conference was that everyone around the world should have access to the internet by 2025, as only 50 percent of the world’s population are currently connected. In addition, the conference identified high-speed internet as being the only way to implement digital applications, and that the expansion of broadband networks was necessary in ensuring this.

Roadmap for digitalisation

To this end, providing access to high-speed internet is one of ten key policy areas which form a “roadmap for digitalisation”, and for which the G20 sees an urgent need for action.

As well as working on policy and regulation to promote competition and encourage private sector investment in connectivity infrastructure, the G20 members also agreed to support investment in the development of 5G and other advanced technologies.  

Charlotte Holloway, policy director at techUK, joined technology trade groups from across the world in Berlin the previous month to present their recommendations to G20 leader and ministers.

Commenting on the impact that global collaboration on connectivity infrastructure would have on the UK’s economy, she said, “In many ways, UK tech is the model on which the future of Great Britain can be based. But that can only happen with aligned policy environments in other countries, in tandem with favourable trade agreements. That’s why working with the G20 on these principles will be key for UK tech and UK Government alike.”

Recognised at all levels

Technology plays an increasingly important crucial role in modern business, and access to fast and reliable connectivity is crucial for productivity, growth and the economy.

In the UK, the Government has been tackling the digital divide and preparing for the roll out of 5G. From divesting power to regional mayors in order to ensure that local infrastructure is fit for modern business, to investing £200 million into full-fibre broadband, the commitment to the UK’s digital transformation is clearly visible. From our own research, we discovered that one third of workers in emerging tech hubs such as Manchester believe that more businesses would be attracted to the city if landlords could offer improved connectivity.

International conferences such as the G20 Digital Summit indicates there is a growing urgency across the globe to ensure that every businesses has the essential internet access in order to drive growth. We are therefore encouraged to see that investment in digital connectivity is at the forefront of global discussions, and we hope that international collaboration will continue in the future.

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