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In an increasingly interconnected world, it is easy to forget that many people, especially those living in the rural areas of low-income economies, lack basic internet connectivity. We encourage the ITU to continue to focus on its core mandate of “connecting all the world’s people”. Within this context, ITU’s expertise could help to explore new and emerging technologies to improve connectivity.

New and emerging technologies and the institutional strategies around them need to be promoted and resourced to address, firstly, digital inclusion, so everyone, and not a privileged few, can benefit from other new emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, the internet of things, augmented reality and blockchain.

Commitments for meaningful internet access and digital inclusion need to be reinforced before the benefits of new and emerging technologies can be fully realised. To achieve this, innovative complementary solutions to existing national mobile broadband strategies, such as community networks, should be prioritised. The social and cultural barriers that contribute to the gender digital divide should be also addressed, as well as access disparities among other people and groups to ensure that “no one is left behind”.

In this submission to the ITU Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) Open Consultation on “International Internet-related Public Policy Issues on Harnessing New and Emerging Telecommunications/ICTs for Sustainable Development”, APC offers reflections around the following questions:

  • How will new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs impact both the internet and sustainable development, including the digital economy?

  • What are the opportunities and challenges for the adoption and growth of the new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs and internet?

  • How can governments and the other stakeholders harness the benefits of new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs? What are the best practices for promoting human skills, institutional capacity, innovation and investment for new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs?