Connectivity for Digital Citizens Today

Tom Chottayil Varghese
Tom Chottayil Varghese
Connectivity Policy, Facebook |

A few years ago, I visited a village in Rajshahi, Bangladesh, which only had spotty 2G coverage. A young man told me he had to climb the tamarind tree in his backyard just to get one bar of coverage — barely enough to call or SMS his friends.

A mobile tower was erected a few weeks later, providing 4G coverage in the area and access to the full range of online services — at least for those with smartphones. A transition which had taken decades in other parts of the world through fixed telephony, dial-up, cellular phones, broadband internet and 4G had taken place overnight.

Similar leapfrogs are happening across Asia Pacific as internet user growth remains at 8 percent - the fastest growing rate globally. The value this unlocks for societies is immense, but more than that, it's meaningful in the way it empowers individuals and communities. Connectivity provides the ability to access knowledge when you don't have a library, set up a business without a brick and mortar store, transfer money without a bank account or consult a doctor when you're nowhere near a hospital. And being able to reach the people you care about without having to climb a tamarind tree.

While connectivity brings many opportunities, they are not equally distributed. The incredible growth of the internet in Asia Pacific means that education systems, institutions, companies and communities must work closer together to ensure digital inclusion.

Being a digital citizen is working to ensure that as many people and communities as possible are able to reap the benefits of connectivity.

- Tom Chottayil Varghese, March 2019