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Broadband Internet: The Power to Reconfigure Access

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Document pages: 60 pages

Abstract: The long-term societal implications of reshaping access for individuals, communities, organisations, nations and regions across the world are of major significance, but are not predetermined by the technology. Instead, they will unfold over time through the complex interplay among the many actors, participating in many arena, who shape these outcomes through a wide range of social, policy and technical choices, some as simple as whether or not to go online. Many of the choices that will shape the future of broadband Internet and its societal implications are highlighted in this paper, which draws on discussions and background position papers at the OII Forum. The Forum focused on the issues surrounding broadband divides , which often mirror and reinforce existing social and economic divides - but may also create new ones. The experts who participated in the Forum represented diverse government, industry, and academic views. They sought deeper understanding of the social, economic and technological implications of the widespread availability and use of broadband Internet. This paper provides a record of the event for a larger audience, and a synthesis of that debate to take forward research and action to policy makers, practitioners and researchers. Its summary of the main issues, insights, background data, ideas and recommendations that emerged at the Forum cover topics such as: the extent and equity implications of uneven availability and adoption of broadband; differences and commonalities in approaches across regions, nations and cultures; roles of industry, government and academia in broadband developments; broadband s relationship to economic, business and industrial competitiveness; and outcomes of broadband use in homes, communities and public services.

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