Wired and wireless infrastructure, including 3G, 4G, 5G, full-fibre, and satellite connectivity, and more specialized digital infrastructures such as the IoT. Connectivity infrastructure needs to deliver high-quality, affordable, and accessible digital experiences. It also includes physical devices, from mobile phones to sensors and handsets, and protocols and processes to enable secure communication and exchange of data and other information.
To help close the rural-urban digital divide, the Government of China focused their efforts alongside operators (including China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom) to put into place targeted measures to make digital technologies affordable and to expand ICT infrastructure. This push began in 2004 with the Villages Access Project and continued in 2009 with subsidies for computers and Internet access points being built in rural areas. In 2013, China’s National Broadband Plan was launched, and a year later, Internet penetration in rural areas reached 29 %. By 2022, it had grown to almost 62 % and more than 97 % of counties were also covered by 5G. This progress toward bridging the digital divide was largely due to China’s efforts to cut rates for basic ICT services, while local and central governments worked together to boost investments in ICT infrastructure in rural areas.
To deal with bureaucratic red tape and limited competition in telecom infrastructure, the Government of the Philippines collaborated with the World Bank to enact a series of structural reforms in the telecommunication sector. The process of issuing permits for towers was streamlined, and a market was created for independent tower companies. Additionally, the government made regulatory changes that encouraged private investments to help fill gaps in the digital infrastructure. Following information from interviews, these streamlining efforts shortened the approval processes for towers in the Philippines from as long as 241 days to just 16, and this year, free internet service will be provided in 3,390 geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, in addition to 8,404 other areas with free internet access across the country, which is expected to redound into a more inclusive digital connectivity especially in rural areas.