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Global push for gigacities to boost socioeconomic growth
Tue, 12th Mar 2024

Billions worldwide stand to benefit from high-speed gigabit internet if new recommendations by the World Broadband Association (WBBA) are heeded by regulators and governments. The concept of 'gigacities' - urban centres where universal access to gigabit internet speeds is a reality - has been proclaimed essential for the elevation of a country's socioeconomic growth.

In this era of rampant urbanisation, investments in gigacities can secure high-speed broadband accessibility even in traditionally underserved, developing markets. However, as things stand, only 26% of households are predicted to be gigabit connected by 2028. The WBBA calls upon government bodies to ensure laws are enacted that incentivise the extension of gigabit broadband technologies beyond urban areas, reaching into the rural.

"The importance of high-quality, fixed broadband became abundantly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic," stated Dr. Marcus Brunner, Chief Expert for Enhanced Broadband, Huawei, and WBBA Working Group Chair. He emphasised that plethora of benefits citizens, businesses and public services can gain from gigabit-speed fibre connectivity. He stressed that these can only be reaped with higher investment. "Only then will everyone be empowered to take advantage of the unparalleled socioeconomic benefits gigacities can deliver. We hope our recommendations encourage governments to take action immediately," says the co-author.

The report, entitled 'Gigacity: unleashing the power of connectivity and innovation', sets out major characteristics to aid cities in measuring their own gigacity evolution. These include the level of fibre to the homes (FTTH) passed, mobile cell site fibre connectivity, median broadband speeds amongst others. "As gigabit city developments continue to increase, we have also set out what is needed to actualise 10Gigacities to ensure reliable connectivity for everyone is maintained," Michael Philpott, the co-author and Research Director, Service Provider Consumer at Omdia, added.

The report also underlines the necessity for ambitious national, regional and city plans to propel the creation of gigacities. Within the expectations from government bodies and regulators are the adoption of gigabit broadband services and increased coverage of fibre infrastructure in all areas including residential, enterprise and public spaces, as well as schools. It also calls for more policy support and financial incentives to foster market growth and uphold universal service obligations.

As future technological advancements emerge, an evolution from gigacity to 10Gigacity will be critical. This transition offers a chance for collaboration among government, private and non-profit entities to boost their nations' competitiveness and international reputation. 10Gigacity refers to the delivery of 10Gbps speeds for all networks from home and mobile broadband to campus and enterprise networks. This requires optimal 5G and FTTH network coverage and high user uptake rates. Achieving this mandates next-generation technology for both mobile and fixed networks.

The outcomes of this evolution will rely heavily on the commitments governments and regulators set in enabling more cities to leverage the undeniable benefits that becoming gigacities can provide.