DPLA in Context: Milestones in Broadband Infrastructure

Posted by Rebekah Heacock Jones on October 31, 2011 in Blog.
Guest post by David Curry

Originally posted in part on David Curry’s blog.

Reflecting on the rich substance (and theater) of the DPLA Plenary Meeting on 21 October 2011, I was thinking about how both the British Library and Europeana stood forward to state their willingness to collaborate.

That willingness underscores, for me, that as ambitious as DPLA’s mission is for citizens of the US, it will unfold in a global context and will, in principle, serve people everywhere there is adequate communications infrastructure and web services.

So taking note of the larger context of developments in open access, digitization and web infrastructure development seems useful, especially as DPLA emerges “a full‐blown, hard‐driving initiative that promises to transform the world of libraries and the way that we meet the information needs of communities in America.” [quoting DPLA Chair John Palfrey in the media release on the US$5 million in grants from the Sloan Foundation and Arcadia Fund].”

One such development is the announcement last week by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) – the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology – of four “ambitious but achievable” new targets for 2015 that countries around the world should strive to meet “in order to ensure their populations fully participate in tomorrow’s emerging knowledge societies.”

The ITU said that targets were endorsed at the Fourth Meeting of its Broadband Commission for Digital Development and cover broadband policy, affordability and uptake:

  • Making broadband policy universal: By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service
  • Making broadband affordable By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (for example, amount to less than 5% of average monthly income).
  • Connecting homes to broadband: By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
  • Getting people online: By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The Broadband Challenge endorsed by the Commission recognizes communication as ‘a human need and a right’, and “calls on governments and private industry to work together to develop the innovative policy frameworks, business models and financing arrangements needed to facilitate growth in access to broadband worldwide.”

The document also notes that “It is essential to review legislative and regulatory frameworks, many of which are inherited from the last century, to ensure the free and unhindered flow of information in the new virtual, hyper-connected world,” and stresses the “need to stimulate content production in local languages and enhance local capacity to benefit from, and contribute to, the digital revolution.”

From my vantage, the notions of “free and unhindered” flows of information complemented by capacity to benefit from and to produce new “local” content (in local languages) resonates strongly with themes underlying DPLA!

The Broadband Challenge report as pdf here. ITU media release here.

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