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Next-Generation Networks for Socioeconomic Development

If you have been following the market research summaries and news that I curate for my Broadband Nation Update list, then you will have noticed a common theme in the commentary – the global movement to deploy Next-Generation Networks has accelerated in recent months.

Perhaps the narrative crescendo will peak next week at the ITU Telecom World 2011 event in Geneva, Switzerland. The focal point for the conference is to Connect the World. One of the features of this year’s event is the “National Pavilion” showcase.

Why would a country promote their region’s talent, technology and innovation at the show? It’s intended to help attract international investment, and thereby build upon a local digital economy ecosystem as a foundation to create new jobs.

The Connected Nation: Driving Change and Growth

Growing nations face the challenge of competing successfully in the global networked economy while meeting the immediate demands of their citizens for improved standards of living. And, in a global economy that is increasingly driven by the Internet, technology has a critical role to play in accelerating the economic success that feeds a better way of life.

Nations that have invested in a national infrastructure, with ubiquitous broadband penetration and ready access to information and communication technology (ICT), have been able to compete better in the global marketplace — while also raising the standard of living at home.

The Cisco concept of the “Connected Nation” centers on the notion of a national communications info-structure. It is concerned with connecting citizens, government, and businesses — enabling knowledge economies; providing better quality of life services; and supporting the flow of commerce.

Within the Connected Nation concept are key areas of focus that contribute to the success of the strategy. They include specialist sectors, such as health, education, and government, but also encompass the idea of Smart+ Connected Communities — which deliver and manage the power of the info-structure within a pre-defined geographic, economic, or residential zone.

This, in turn, helps the Connected SMB by empowering small and medium-sized businesses that are the engines of economic growth and entrepreneurship. Formulating a Connected Nation strategy is the first step to building a knowledge-based society, delivering universal, excellent services across a dependable infrastructure, and driving economic success towards a better way of life.

A Connected Nation is one that can harness the power of broadband and ICT to drive sustainable socioeconomic progress. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, both broadband penetration and ICT investment as a percentage of GDP have been shown to have a high correlation to a country’s global competitiveness.

Net impact studies show that governments can improve productivity sevenfold by deploying and managing business processes over the network. If a country can improve its productivity by 5 percent per year, then it could double its standard of living in just four years.

Balancing Challenges with Opportunities

But many emerging nations must overcome the challenges of recurring poverty, overpopulation, a lack of essential skills, and many other issues — before implementing a true Connected Nation strategy. The dilemma always focuses on the trade-off between the demand from all sides for resources and the available budget.

Cisco’s Connected Nation program initiatives were conceived to support the transformation of these countries. They are designed to enable the delivery of an affordable, integrated ICT infrastructure that helps people, communities, small businesses, and organizations connect and collaborate with each other as a unified and coordinated state — one not bound by geography or social hierarchies.

Placing the unmet needs of citizens and businesses at the core, Cisco works hand-in-hand with public and private stakeholders to implement a coordinated info-structure, using ICT and the broadband network as a platform. The Connected Nation concept is designed to help nations move from vision to reality in achieving their development goals.

Learn more about the Connected Nation program by visiting the Cisco IBSG thought leadership catalog. Also, please share your ITU event observations.

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4 Comments.


  1. Interesting article. We are tackling many of the same issues but from the hyper-local point of view. I.e. Developing a customized, social networking platform to enable small communities to more effectively map their needs to their assets, and to harness the efforts of the entire community – each and every person – towards the goal of building a sustainable future.

    BTW we are the developers of EntreOasis, a social network for entrepreneurs, that we created in partnership with the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute. See http://entreoasis.com

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  2. David Deans

    @Richard, thank you for taking the time to share some details about your organization’s role. I just visited your websites.

    I’ve not considered using business simulation technologies to help drive the process of local entrepreneur development. Very interesting. I’ll create a profile on EntreOasis to check it out.

    BTW, for our other readers, The Cisco Entrepreneur Institute is a resource for some thought provoking “success stories” that may be of interest to you http://ciscoinstitute.net/index.php?page=210959

    Stories about how people start-up a new business are often an inspiration for other people who wonder if they could join the ranks of the self-employed.

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  3. Thank you for a great article. It is a subject matter that I often wondered about the past 2yrs, particularly because of the UNs Millennium Development Goal-Develop a global partnership for development. Being originally from a developing country, I still have strong roots there and it never ceases to amaze me, how challenging it still is trying to Skype with my family in the efforts of reducing cost of long distance but the infrastructure is limited to none in other to enable this effort.

    I haven’t done much research on this aspect but if only Service Providers in developing countries perhaps have a clear and defined opportunity to form cost effective and strategic alliances with service providers in the (US, Europe, etc), perhaps the tentacles of existing infrastructure in these successful continents could slowly begin the realization of Cisco’s concept of the “Connected Nation”. I am sure the ground works are being laid to pave the way already, however with due diligence more risks can be taken to accelerate the effort.

    I suppose the “balancing challenges” always boils down to determining a satisfactory ROI and trade-off between demand from all sides for resources and the available budget. companies in the West that are leading the way is to As numerous research has shown there is no doubt that developing countries are up to speed and onboard with the benefits of the internet, mobile technology, and now social media are equally important to them as it is to citizens in the West.

    I believe that, in order to see the growth of developing countries participating and competing successfully in the global networked economy while meeting the immediate demands of their citizens for improved standards of living, then we CANNOT fully wait for “many emerging nations to overcome the challenges of recurring poverty, overpopulation, a lack of essential skills, and many other issues — before implementing a true Connected Nation strategy”.

    Well said here “Net impact studies show that governments can improve productivity sevenfold by deploying and managing business processes over the network. If a country can improve its productivity by 5 percent per year, then it could double its standard of living in just four years.”

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    • David Deans

      @Fatou, thank you — for taking the time to share your thoughtful observations. Video chat offerings, such as Skype, help to reunite family members that otherwise are separated by great geographic distance (my own family included). The personal adoption of these video communication applications often lead to commercial use — as we become more familiar with the potential for these online collaboration services. The socioeconomic benefits are now very apparent.

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