Table of contents
Part 1
What are ICT and internet policies?
Part 2
The internet, markets and access
Part 3
National ICT and internet policy and regulation
Part 4
Specific issues in internet policy and regulation
Part 5
Organisations active in ICT

Table of contents

2. Internet Basics

3. Internet economics: what things cost (in different countries) and who pays

4. Market structure, monopolies and multinationals

5. Network interconnections and exchanges

6. Regional differences: Africa, Asia, Europe, USA

7. Technical infrastructure of the Internet and how that shapes governance

8. Market models for extending access

9. Access and infrastructure- social models for extending the reach of the Internet

PART 2: The Internet, markets and access

There is a range of issues surrounding how to ‘democratise’ the Internet. But the starting point for policy considerations is how to ‘enfranchise’ the Internet in the first place by making access more affordable. In developed countries, Internet users have often complained about the (relatively) high cost of Internet access, as in the Internet strikes in Europe in 1998-9, where many users in Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland refused to connect for 24 hours in protest at the high cost and to demand a low flat rate. But the paradox of the digital divide is that it is often more expensive to access the Internet in developing countries than it is in developed countries.

Simply put, an individual user in the US accessing the Internet over an ADSL line at 512 Kbps has the same bandwidth as Sierra Leone. The cost for the US user is around US$50 per month, but for Sierra Leone the cost of this bandwidth could be around US$4,700 per month for the country. At each step, it can be more expensive to access the Internet in the developing world than in the developed world. This is because of the telecommunications infrastructure on which it relies, and the governance structure of the Internet. Also with any commodity, volume affects price. Therefore developing nations who have less traffic than developed nations will find it harder to obtain cheaper prices.

In this Part 2, we look at some of these injustices, with particular reference to Africa, where the problem is most acute, explain how they come about, and provide some pointers towards ways of providing access for all people in developing countries. This involves analysing how Internet costs are shaped partly by its unique technical structure (chapters 2 and 5) but also very much by its commercial setup (chapters 3 and 4). Some regional differences are explained in chapter 6, and chapter 7 then looks at how the technical infrastructure affects Internet governance. Finally we look at some initiatives to address the problems raised in this part of the book.

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