Internet for Development

Challenges to the Network

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This report, prepared by ITU, is the second in the Challenges to the Network series. The report looks at the role of the Internet in economic development. The study pays special attention to the impact that the Internet is having and will have in the economies of developing nations and the role of the Internet in promoting economic and social development. This version was prepared and updated specially for the TELECOM Interactive 99 event, held in Geneva during October 1999.



Internet for public telecommunication operators

In this report, we have advanced the case for the Internet as a platform for the development of new services, new applications and, indeed, the birth of a new industry. In particular, we have looked at how the Internet offers promise of a fresh start for developing nations in the Herculean task of bringing basic telecommunication services into people’s homes, as well as into their workplaces, schools and hospitals. On the side of the optimists, at least, the argument goes like this: the Internet can widen and enhance access in the developing nations because it offers a service which is frequently cheaper, more versatile and more technically efficient than standard telephony. Furthermore, the Internet can allow businesses from developing nations to “leapfrog” into the development mainstream by permitting them to advertise their services more widely and to use Internet-based commerce to sell their wares and their services directly to customers without needing to pass through “middlemen” (sales agents, distributors and the like) who seep away most of the potential cost advantage that they might have. In this utopian view, the Internet is a way of levelling the playing-field and rendering the traditional disadvantages of developing nations—distance from markets, under-invested basic infrastructure, under-utilised capacity etc.,—less onerous.


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