The Affordability Report is an annual report produced by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a 100+ member global coalition hosted by the Web Foundation. This year’s report explores how universal access could be achieved through repositioning, and rethinking, Universal Service and Access Funds.
This year’s Affordability Drivers Index (ADI) indicates that, overall, conditions continue to improve towards greater affordability. However, progress remains slow and governments have not taken the required actions to accelerate internet access worldwide in a way that would help attain the Sustainable Development Goals, grow the economy, and help people realise their potential.
This year’s report explores Universal Service & Access Funds (USAFs) as catalysts for action to drive down the price of internet access, expand coverage to the millions that remain unconnected, and build the inclusive foundation for a robust digital economy.
Our report builds from new innovations in industrial policy that focus on reorganising political and economic institutions to work in harmony towards a common goal.
There are several potential interventions and reforms for USAFs to better deliver on a mission for universal internet access, spanning from operational details to governance strategies.
Governments must modernise the USAF mandate to build inclusive, strong digital economies. USAFs offer the pre-existing infrastructure to pursue a mission for universal internet access. However, governments must enable these institutions to evolve with the growing impact of the ICT sector with timely policies, adequate resources, and a mandate to build a coalition of actors across the sector.
There is still time to act and meet the international goals set for universal, affordable access to the internet by 2030. But these goals will not be met without radical thinking and new approaches that move legacy institutions from their ways of working at inception to new strategies for a new era of digital technologies.
The 2021 edition of the Affordability Report, along with all supporting data and an interactive data explorer is available at a4ai.org/affordability-report.