More can afford broadband if price dips 1 percent

Affordability biggest barrier to broadband adoption, and small drop in price can bring access within economic reach of those who may otherwise be digitally deprived, reveals analyst.

Some 5 million more households worldwide--which may otherwise be digitally deprived--will be able to access broadband services if charges dip just by 1 percent,  according to an analyst firm, underscoring affordability as the biggest barrier to broadband adoption.

With over 500 million fixed lines already in use, and several markets extending the reach of fixed broadband across their populations, the "specter of deepening digital divide rears its head", Oliver Johnson, CEO of analyst firm Point Topic, said in a statement Thursday.

The next wave of "superfast" broadband is gaining steam, with some countries already deploying fiber through a larger percentage of their networks. And, yet, "plenty" of places--commonly outside the richer business districts and high-density areas--still do not support a commercial rollout of full P2P (peer-to-peer) or active optical implementations, Johnson pointed out.

Since there are several market offerings to deliver superfast broadband, it is imperative that suppliers align their networks and implement those that are cost-effective, he said.

If these suppliers can shave 1 percent off the cost of a broadband service, this can bring access "into the economic reach of at least another 5 million households", he revealed.

Nonetheless, he noted that it was still "way too early" to conclude that this would resolve the availability issue for broadband. "There are still plenty of countries with lower penetration than you'd want to see," he said.

Standards would be core to this effort, he added. "Standards are one component of bringing down the price of a broadband service. Competition, information and technological advances all make a difference.

"Mostly, however, it's about how much of any saving a supplier can pass on to its customers, and to be able to reduce costs at a stroke of a standards-pen, that should bring some immediate relief for the digital divide," Johnson concluded.

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