Connected Society launches the Mobile Internet Skills Training ToolkitWatch the videoBrowse our publications
Connected Society launches the Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit - Read more
GSMA Digital Inclusion in Africa: A Snapshot - Watch the video
Connected Society resources - Browse our publications

Connected Society Programme

Unlocking human potential through the power of mobile internet

Our mission is to support the mobile industry to increase the adoption of the internet for the underserved by tackling key barriers: network coverage, affordability, digital skills and locally relevant content.

The internet is the most important enabler of social development and economic growth of our time. Already 3.2 billion people are online – 2.4 billion of them through mobile – directly benefiting from and contributing to the digital economy. 4 billion people remain offline, unable to participate and unaware of the opportunities.

The unconnected population is predominantly located in developing world markets, typically on low incomes and lacking basic and digital literacy skills.  Women are disproportionately affected by these challenges. Mobile represents the best opportunity for the underserved to join the digital economy.

The Connected Society Programme works with the mobile industry and key stakeholders to improve network coverage, affordability, digital skills and locally relevant content, in pursuit of wider adoption of the mobile internet.

Affordability and Taxation
Affordability

Affordability

Promoting policy best practice and commercial innovation to help make mobile services more affordable to more people, especially at the bottom of the pyramid Affordability is a key barrier to wider adoption of the mobile internet. It particularly impacts people in lower income groups who are often faced with a trade off between paying for mobile internet access or buying essential items for their families. Women are often disproportionately impacted by affordability issues. The cost of mobile internet-capable devices and services is impacted by a whole range of factors many of which are outside the direct control of the Mobile Industry. In particular sector specific taxes, fees and other levies – including the upfront and recurring costs of mobile spectrum – have a significant impact on affordability. In some cases government policies directly impact the prices paid by end users. In other cases such policies inflate the upfront and recurring costs incurred by mobile operators that are ultimately passed on to the end user through higher prices. The Affordability team works with the Mobile Industry to promote policy best practice, its role in supporting greater affordability and the corresponding benefits to internet adoption, economic growth and social inclusion. We also work with operators to identify new commercial approaches that can help make mobile internet access more accessible to low income user groups. http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/connected-society/affordability-and-taxation
Network Infrastructure and Policy
Infrastructure Economics

Infrastructure Economics

Supporting the Mobile Industry to develop and implement commercially sustainable solutions to rural mobile network coverage expansion Over 95% of the World’s population lives within the footprint of a 2G network but the reach of 3G mobile broadband capable networks, at around 70%, is much lower. The mobile broadband coverage gaps exist primarily in developing world markets (especially in Africa and Asia) where the technical and commercial challenges to network expansion are significant. Areas without coverage often lack basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity meaning it is significantly more expensive for mobile operators to deploy, power and maintain base stations and to install the backhaul capacity needed to provide end users with fast data connections. In addition to higher operating and capital costs, the revenue generating opportunity from base stations in rural areas is often greatly reduced compared to urban areas. Population densities are typically much lower (meaning a smaller market opportunity) as are income levels (meaning lower levels of per user spend on mobile services). The Infrastructure Economics team works with the Mobile Industry to identify and implement commercially sustainable solutions to network coverage expansion, typically through infrastructure sharing models and the application of alternative technologies. The team also works with governments and regulators to ensure the right enabling policy environment is in place. http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/connected-society/network-infrastructure-and-policy
Digital Literacy
Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy

Helping the Mobile Industry to develop and deliver best-in-class digital skills training programmes and raise awareness of the benefits from getting online Digital skills and awareness are essential enablers of mobile internet adoption. People need to see the relevance and benefit to their lives from being online and have the necessary skills to take advantage of the opportunity. Digital literacy levels are typically lower (in some cases significantly so) amongst specific population groups – the low income, older age groups, rural communities and women. For some of these population groups a lack of basic literacy skills is a key contributory factor. Other population groups may have missed out on education that would have introduced them to online technology. Basic skills and education are lowest in developing world markets. Globally, there are over 750 million illiterate adults with ten countries - India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia and the DRC - accounting for 75 percent of the total illiterate population worldwide. But digital literacy is also an issue in many developed world markets, particularly those with ageing populations. The Digital Literacy Team works with the Mobile Industry and external stakeholder groups to develop and deliver best-in-class digital skills training programmes and campaigns to raise awareness about the benefits of getting online. http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/connected-society/digital-literacy
Locally Relevant Content
Locally Relevant Content

Locally Relevant Content

Promoting the development of online content and services that are relevant to local populations Mobile internet adoption rates are often higher in markets which have vibrant digital ecosystems offering end users online content and services that are localized and relevant to their needs. Sometimes it is sufficient for an application or online service to be made available in the local language. In other cases there can be a strong demand for online content or services that meets a very specific need - money transfer, agriculture or healthcare for example. Policy can also be an important enabler through support for in–country hosting and internet exchange points of presence and support for open and unrestricted access to the internet. Public administrations can also lead the way by developing effective e-Government services. Market research carried out by the GSMA has identified that a (sometimes perceived) lack of locally relevant content is a key factor behind low mobile internet adoption rates in a number of Latin American markets. The Locally Relevant Content Team works with the Mobile Industry and external stakeholders to identify the key characteristics of online content and services required by underserved population groups across different country markets and stimulate the development of the local digital ecosystem to address these needs. http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/connected-society/local-content
Contact GSMA Legal Email Preference Centre Copyright © 2016 GSMA. GSM and the GSM Logo are registered and owned by the GSMA.