Fresh call for policymakers to act on subsea cable deployments
A new report emphasises that the demand for additional international connectivity, provided by subsea cables, will only continue to grow, and the report authors say this should push policymakers to plan, and implement policies that encourage investment in the development and deployment of these cables.
The Global Digital Inclusion Partnership's (GDIP) document, Good Practices for Subsea Cables Policy, calls for stakeholders to be included in the deployment and maintenance of subsea cables, as well as a clear legislative and regulatory framework to control them.
"Without this, policymakers will falter in the dual mission of universal and meaningful connectivity," according to the paper.
The GDIP is a partnership of public, business, and civil society organisations seeking to drive inclusive digital societies resulting from the provision of internet connectivity to the global majority, and, in so doing, advance digital opportunities to empower and support people’s lives and agency, ensuring everyone has meaningful access by 2030.
In its current policy report, the organisation recommends best practices for subsea cable policy in three key areas: supporting competition and innovation in and through subsea internet cables; providing regulatory certainty and streamlining the permitting and maintenance of subsea internet cables; and ensuring adequate protection and timely repair of subsea cables.
The report, which was published yesterday, is based on research and case study evidence. It states: “Subsea cables carry an extraordinary amount of internet traffic — estimates suggest that about 95% of global internet traffic travels through these cables.
“The role of subsea cables in the infrastructure of the internet makes them a critical element to meet the ever-growing demand for affordable, high-quality broadband services and the efficient, unconstrained flow of data that makes digital economies thrive.”
However, the report notes that the availability of subsea cable infrastructure varies significantly around the world, resulting in wide disparities in user experiences and the scalable benefits of connectivity that can only be realised when universal, reliable, and affordable connectivity is available.
It states: “The introduction of subsea cables into a market can have significant impacts on the domestic economy, as documented recently in both Ghana and Vanuatu. But, given that subsea cables and their landing stations typically represent just a handful of connection points within the whole nationwide network, they in turn pose unique challenges for network operators, policymakers, and regulators.
“It is critical that informed stakeholders be involved in the deployment and maintenance of these cables and for there to be a clear policy and regulatory framework around their governance.”
The paper goes on to say, “The need for more international connectivity supplied by subsea cables will only increase in the future: this fact should motivate policymakers to plan for the future and adopt policies that enable investment in the construction and deployment of these cables.”