GENEVA: The secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency responsible for information and communications technology, has announced global broadband targets to monitor the "evolution of broadband progress" globally.
The targets were announced in Geneva at the ITU's annual Telecom World Conference.
An ITU body, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development (BCDD), is responsible for setting and monitoring these targets, which will cover policy, affordability and uptake.
The affordability target will set a maximum percentage of monthly income for internet access per country; the uptake target will set minimum goals for household uptake; and the policy target will assess individual country's broadband rollout plans.
"If we are not careful we risk creating a world of broadband poor and broadband rich," said Dr Hamadoun I. Toure, secretary general of the ITU in Geneva.
"We must step up our efforts to make access to broadband networks and services equitable and affordable for all the world's people, wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances," he added.
"The BCDD aims to do just this. One of the most important outcomes of its meeting was the endorsement of measurable broadband targets.
"We will measure progress annually and publish country ranking to quantify evolution of broadband progress," said Toure.
More details on the targets will be released later in the week.
"I am absolutely convinced that broadband will be the defining technology of the early 21st century. It will help deliver radical improvements in healthcare, education, transportation, utility supply and government services.
"Most importantly, it will help us to meet the millennium development goals, for which the deadline is now just three years away," he said.
The millennium development goals are eight international development goals that all United Nations member states have agreed to achieve by 2015. They include combating poverty and disease, and developing global partnerships for development.
The UK government pledged £530m last November to ensure that 90 per cent of households in each local authority could access super-fast broadband as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review.
The first wave of the government's funding was agreed in October 2010 for four UK-based pilot projects – in North Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Cumbria and the Highlands – to establish a model for broadband provision in rural areas. Each project was allocated between £5m and £10m.
Further projects in Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Norfolk were unveiled in May 2011.