Accelerating Digital Inclusion in the New Normal

The COVID-19 crisis has thrown into sharp focus the importance of digital connectivity in daily life. As many countries underwent lockdown periods, digital infrastructure was critical to mitigate the impact of stay-at-home restrictions. Connectivity players have contributed by taking short-term actions to ensure continued access during the crisis. More importantly, their long-term investment in infrastructure over the past 20 years has driven a step change in the level of fixed and mobile coverage and technology.This has enabled the continuation of key activities digitally, such as remote working, healthcare and education, and underpinned the growth of sectors such as e-commerce while supporting adjacent industry players at a critical time. At the same time, the crisis has also exposed even more clearly the gaps that still exist in digital access. When essential services such as health, education or simply being able to continue one’s professional activity depend on connectivity, the inequalities became exacerbated. There remains a divide in access to high-speed fixed and mobile connectivity. Even among fixed broadband subscribers, many do not get sufficient speeds for effective remote work, telemedicine or study, including in developed countries.