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World Telecommunications Markets

The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume III

Edited by Gary Madden

This major reference work provides a thorough and up-to-date survey and analysis of recent developments in the economics of telecommunications. The Handbook serves both as a source of reference and technical supplement for the field of telecommunications economics.
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Chapter 13: International efforts to bridge the digital divide: a global imperative

Bruno Lanvin


13. International efforts to bridge the digital divide: a global imperative Bruno Lanvin If we fail, the poor will be the first casualty. (James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank) INTRODUCTION Over the last two years, considerable and increasing attention has been devoted to the concept of ‘digital divide’. This has been the case in the more advanced countries, such as the United States, where government entities as well as non-profit and private organizations have initiated specific actions and strategies to connect underprivileged suburbs, rural districts and isolated communities. The OECD has recently published a set of indicators and statistics describing digital disparities among its members. But the digital divide that has started to receive the greatest degree of attention in the recent past has been the one that separates rich countries from poorer ones. The main reason that explains this shift in international concerns is that the digital divide is becoming one of the most visible and most acute components of this developing divide. The very existence of such a divide, in an area in which advanced economies have witnessed spectacular financial and productivity gains over the recent period, is a threat to global economic growth, international peace and security. Importantly, this digital divide is widening. As international bureaucrats and global pundits react with surprise (and sometimes shock) to the growing wave of anti-globalization movements, one cannot but wonder if this renewed attention to a long-standing problem (the lack of access by poorer nations to...

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