More than 50 million people in communities across the Pacific live without fast, affordable access to the Internet. More than 13 million live on outer islands. Over 40 million more live in locations surrounding the Pacific, such as remote parts of Eastern Indonesia, where there is little connectivity. They all struggle to access the Internet with good quality and acceptable cost.
Because of their remoteness and dissemination, the islands suffer a chronic lack of connectivity. Paradoxically, the high-quality Internet enjoyed by the connected world exacerbates the isolation of islanders and rural communities, and deprives them of the human capital and economic growth that high-quality broadband connectivity has been proven to bring.
Demand models show that more than a million latent Internet users live in the extended Pacific islands, where there are high levels of education. Over a million latent Internet users could be added if the region was supplied with levels of connectivity equivalent to those found in developing parts of Asia, Africa or Central America. The lack of supply leads to the world’s highest Internet pricing in any deregulated or semi-deregulated telecom economy. Substandard, over-contended broadband services can easily reach monthly fees of hundreds – or even several hundreds – of dollars a month.
Even in extended American territories the cost of 1Mbps domestic broadband remains very expensive compared to mainland United States, Guam or Hawaii. This in turn leads to a significant loss of opportunities for local economies, including a low penetration of online bookings, online purchases and e-commerce. This, in turn, fuels a vicious circle of low supply, low penetration, hence again, low interest from international players in supplying more core bandwidth.