Bridging the digital gaps
We are experiencing an unprecedented digital transformation. Improved connectivity and the development of new technologies are opening new opportunities for social and economic development of the population. However, this transformation presents a huge challenge: achieving full digital inclusion. To achieve this, it is necessary to overcome persistent digital gaps, fostering the development of the digital economy and building digital trust.
In this context, the telecommunications sector is a key ally. The aim is not only to improve coverage to connect the unconnected, but also to stimulate its use, encourage innovation and its adoption among the business community. At the same time, public and private entities must be incentivised to accelerate their digitalisation and foster a trustworthy environment by strengthening cybersecurity and privacy for all.
From the coverage gap to the usage gap
When we talk about the digital gap, we always refer to the gap in access to connectivity networks, known as the coverage gap. Much progress has been made in bridging this gap: 95% of the world is now covered by mobile broadband networks.
However, as the coverage gap has narrowed, it has been observed that, despite being within the connectivity footprint, there are people who do not make use of it. Forty per cent of the population covered by these infrastructures is disconnected and faces other barriers. The factors causing this gap are diverse, ranging from digital literacy and affordability, to cultural, generational and gender barriers. This is known as the usage gap.
This paradigm shift implies the need to refocus public policies to facilitate the adoption of digital technologies and services, thus favouring greater digital inclusion.
This document analyses the existing barriers from the supply side (coverage) and the demand side (use of connectivity) and elaborates proposals to close the gaps.