Goal 2 - Inclusiveness

Bridge the digital divide and provide broadband access for all

Being committed to ensuring that everyone without exception benefits from telecommunications/ICTs, ITU will work to bridge the digital divide for an inclusive information society and enable the provision of broadband access for all, leaving no one offline. Bridging the digital divide focuses on global telecommunication/ICT inclusiveness, fostering telecommunication/ICT access, accessibility, affordability and use in all countries and regions and for all peoples, including women and girls, youth and marginal and vulnerable populations, people from lower socio-economic groups, indigenous peoples, older persons and persons with disabilities.

Target 2.1: By 2023, in the developing world, 60% of households should have access to the Internet

As the Internet invades our lives, household access can offer greater prospects for better connectivity and self-improvement than individual connectivity, in some instances. In developing countries, among poorer communities, a household Internet connection can extend access to whole families, rather than individuals. Wider debates arise in relation to issues of social justice and equal access to education for poorer students and pupils who do not have Internet access at home, and may be excluded from learning or homework activities. Patterns of usage differ between countries, but the evidence suggests that household Internet access remains important and offers a vital window onto the online world.

Target 2.2: By 2023, in the least developed countries, 30% of households should have access to the Internet

As the Internet invades our lives, household access can offer greater prospects for better connectivity and self-improvement than individual connectivity, in some instances. In developing countries, among poorer communities, a household Internet connection can extend access to whole families, rather than individuals. Wider debates arise in relation to issues of social justice and equal access to education for poorer students and pupils who do not have Internet access at home, and may be excluded from learning or homework activities. Patterns of usage differ between countries, but the evidence suggests that household Internet access remains important and offers a vital window onto the online world.

Target 2.3: By 2023, in the developing world, 60% of individuals will be using the Internet

In today’s digital society, exclusion from online information and services are major barriers to future work opportunities and the jobs market. Digital skills are now vital to apply for jobs, file a tax return, access online banking, register to vote or get a passport, access information, news and entertainment. The right to broadband Internet access has been recognized as a citizen’s right in over twenty countries, with Governments working in partnership with operators to bring citizens online.

Target 2.4: By 2023, in the least developed countries, 30% of individuals will be using the Internet

Many of the world's unconnected people live in least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). Over a billion new Internet users were added in the last four years, but substantial digital divides persist between countries, communities, and people. In today’s digital society, exclusion from online information and services are major barriers to future work opportunities and the jobs market. Digital skills are now vital to apply for jobs, file a tax return, access online banking, register to vote or get a passport, access information, news and entertainment. The right to broadband Internet access has been recognized as a citizen’s right in over twenty countries, with Governments working in partnership with operators to bring citizens online.

Target 2.5: By 2023, the affordability gap between developed and developing countries should be reduced by 25% (baseline year 2017)

Affordability is cited as a major barrier to access in many Internet usage surveys. The good news is that, according to ITU data, Internet services and different digital technologies have seen regular and sustained falls in price in nearly all countries and regions over the last decade. The bad news is affordability gaps persist. Reducing the cost of Internet access further could help poorer individuals access the Internet more extensively and use a wider range of Internet services more often.

Target 2.6: By 2023, broadband services should cost no more than 3% of average monthly income in developing countries

Affordability is cited as a major barrier to access in many Internet usage surveys. The good news is that, according to ITU data, Internet services and different digital technologies have seen regular and sustained falls in price over the last decade.

The bad news is operators offer a bewildering array of different bundles and connectivity options, and it is complex for consumers to compare them, leaving consumers uncertain about what the ultimate costs may be. In many developing countries and LDCs, people are forced to choose between their basic needs (food, clothing, rent) and telecom services. Reducing the cost of Internet access further could help poorer individuals access the Internet more extensively and use a wider range of Internet services more often.

Target 2.7: By 2023, 96% of the world population covered by broadband services

For the global population, the highest proportion possible should be covered by broadband services by 2023. This is usually defined as the percentage of the total global population covered by at least a 3G mobile network and 3G mobile-cellular signal, irrespective of whether or not they are subscribers. Covering more communities with high-speed networks is a vital first step to connecting more people.

Target 2.8: by 2023, gender equality in Internet usage and mobile phone ownership should be achieved

Gender gaps in Internet access drive other gaps in access – such as women’s ability to access information about health issues to their citizens’ rights, self-empowerment, improve education and apply for better-paid jobs needing digital skills. A substantial divide persists between women and men and between girls and boys in Internet access and use. In 2019, the proportion of women using the Internet globally was 48%, compared to 58% of men. In relative terms, this means that the global Internet user gap stood at around 17%. Worse still, this gap has widened significantly since 2015. ITU monitors gender gaps in Internet access closely, as a key signal of women’s prospects.

Target 2.9: By 2023, enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunications/ICTs for persons with disabilities should be established in all countries

Communication technologies have vast potential to help people with specialized needs – e.g. text to voice conversion software for poorly sighted persons, or voice to text software for people with limited hearing. This target monitors the number of countries with a specific policy for ICT accessibility, to ensure that people with specific needs are not disadvantaged in their ability to access ICTs, and that special consideration is taken of their specific needs in relation to communication technologies.

Target 2.10: By 2023, improve by 40% the proportion of youth/adults with telecommunication/ICT skills

In today’s digital society, exclusion from online information and services are major barriers to future work opportunities and the jobs market. Digital skills are now vital to apply for jobs, interact with peers and stay in touch with family and friends. ITU Member States have committed that, relative to 2017, the proportion of youth population and adults with telecom/ICT skills should increase by 40%.

Resources ITU Academy