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UN launches information superhighway to bridge digital divide

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 21:54

Bangkok: The United Nations has launched an interactive map of the information superhighway to show policy makers and investors the location of the missing links in the digital divide in the Asia-Pacific region.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released the maps jointly with the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The ITU Interactive Terrestrial Transmission/ESCAP Asia Pacific Information Superhighway Maps aims to play an important role in efforts to bring affordable information and communication technology (ICT) and broadband connectivity to all.

"In Asia and the Pacific, what we call the ‘digital divide’ is in fact an income divide, a gender divide, an education divide and a knowledge divide," said Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of ESCAP.

The region has both the world`s highest and lowest penetration rates for fixed broadband, with South Korea at 37.56 percent and Myanmar at 0.01 per cent, according to UN figures.

In a video message, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "Increased connectivity can help bridge this gap."

"It is important that we make the best use of technology to empower people with the information, knowledge and means to improve their lives."

The launch coincided with the start of the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit and the back-to-back ITU Telecom World 2013 being held this week in Bangkok.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure said the maps will empower network planners, policy-makers and regulators from developing countries, and provide a "powerful tool" to assess marker opportunities.

During the launch, participants discussed the region’s main transport networks , the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railways, and stressed the importance of laying fibre-optic cables in coordination with the work on the railways and roads to ensure appropriate cost savings.

First Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 21:54

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