Conroy joins new UN broadband commission

UN opens broadband commission to speed global rollout

Two United Nations agencies on Monday announced a new commission aimed at speeding the roll-out of high-speed broadband Internet networks around the world to improve social services such as healthcare and education.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development will be co-chaired by the world's richest man, Mexican telecom-magnate Carlos Slim Hélu, and Rwanda President Paul Kagame.

The commission, which includes 30 companies and organizations, will seek ways to speed the global roll-out of broadband networks as well as find new ways such networks can be used to improve a variety of social services, the two U.N. agencies, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a statement.

"It is very important that broadband be a high-quality universal service at a low cost," said Hélu, in a video broadcast, adding that governments around the world should make broadband access a top priority. "Broadband is not a gap, but a bridge between developed and developing countries, providing access to all of the services of modern society for the well-being of the population in general."

Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has been appointed by the UN as a founding member of the broadband commission. "The appointment recognises the Australian Government’s commitment to provide all Australians with affordable high speed broadband, no matter where they live," Conroy said. "The digital economy presents social and economic opportunities that have never before been possible and making the most of these opportunities will be crucial for nations around the world.

"The Rudd Government is ensuring Australia has the infrastructure in place to deliver high-speed broadband by building the National Broadband Network (NBN)."

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