The United Nations stated the importance of broadband like no other official government body could. Representing global broadband interests in nations around the world, the world body published a comprehensive global broadband policy document entitled The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All. Emphasizing the growing global importance of broadband, the UN summed up the economic significance of Internet access:
By 2020, the number of connected devices may potentially outnumber connected people by six to one, transforming our concept of the Internet, and society, forever. Today’s Internet economy is large and growing fast by every measure. In 2012, the Boston Consulting Group estimated the size of the Internet economy in the G20 countries at around US$ 2.3 trillion or 4.1% of GDP in 2010; by 2016, this could nearly double to US$ 4.2 trillion2. In 2011, McKinsey estimated that the Internet accounts for 3.4% of total GDP and one fifth of all growth in GDP for the G8 countries plus five major economies (Rep. of Korea, Sweden, Brazil, China, and India – McKinsey Global Institute, 20113). Taking into account the spillover effects of broadband could boost these estimates further, as broadband connectivity is also argued to impact positively labor productivity and job creation
The general mission of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development is to ensure high-speed affordable broadband connectivity to the Internet is provided to every citizen. The Commission promotes the adoption of broadband-friendly practices and policies for all, so everyone can take advantage of the social and societal benefits offered by broadband.
The report notes the importance of national broadband plans to lay out a cohesive strategy for deploying and utilizing broadband to carry out strategic national priorities. 119 Governments have adopted broadband plans to guide the journey into the digital era. Based from a global perspective, the importance of a national broadband strategy is summed up in the report:
"Governments play a critical role in convening the private sector, public institutions, civil society and individual citizens to outline a vision for a connected nation. Policy leadership is necessary to:
- Highlight the role of broadband in national development
- Establish a forum for dialogue and encouraging work across Ministries and sectors
- Set an agenda that outlines policy goals and targets
- Provide an enabling environment for private investment to flourish.
The UN broadband report is both a global assessment of the state of broadband access around the world and a policy guide for increased global broadband deployment and adoption. The United Nations has been actively involved with the promotion of global broadband initiatives and the right of individuals to access content from the Internet. A report from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly declared access to the Internet a basic human right which enables individuals to "exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression."
The "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue" made many bold statements regarding an individual's right to Internet access, and helped spur global efforts to increase broadband availability in developing nations.