There is a good reason why spectrum policy has emerged as a key underpinning of efforts to eliminate the digital divide. Simply, connecting the unconnected will require infrastructure that costs far less. The reason is quite simple: the unconnected remain in that state in large part because they cannot afford to pay too much to use communications, and our legacy access platforms have not been deployable at costs that match ability to pay. 

Spectrum sharing, use of license exempt spectrum and release of vast new amounts of spectrum, plus new mobile platforms such as the coming 5G networks will help, on that score.

A good example is the amount of money a household can afford to spend on communications, per month, as a function of household income. For the cohort including the first billion people, with annual income averaging $29,000 annually, a household can afford to spend $205 a month on communications, according to data developed by Richard Thanki, University of Southampton.

In contrast, for the cohort including the seventh billion, a household can afford to spend only about $2.25 per month. Those of you familiar with the mobile market in India will recognize the number. The average mobile account in India represents monthly spending of about $2.

Where the cohort including the second billion people has household income of about  $12,700, they can afford to spend about $53 per month on communications.

The cohort including the third billion, with income is $5,500, can afford to $23 a month on communications..

The cohort including the fourth billion has $2990 annual income, and can afford to buy $12 a month of communications services.

The cohort including the fifth billion earns $1770 annually, and can afford to spend $7 a month.

The cohort including the sixth billion can afford to spend $4.40 per month on communications. The cohort including the fifth billion people can afford to spend $7 per month.

Average annual income for the cohort including the seventh billion people is $540 per year. Africa and India dominate the seventh billion cohort, many would note.