The 1 World Connected initiative was launched in 2016 to provide an empirical foundation for efforts to close the global digital divide. Only two-thirds of the world’s roughly eight billion people are currently able to enjoy the benefits of Internet connectivity. The insights generated by 1 World Connected’s research projects provide key decisionmakers, such as government departments and international organizations, with a data-driven foundation for determining what really works to bring the unconnected online.
1 World Connected’s initial work focused on creating databases of the technologies and business models used to establish connectivity. Other studies have explored the use of municipal fiber and fixed wireless to connect people in smaller cities and rural areas in the United States, information that is critical for allocating the $65 billion investment in broadband infrastructure enabled by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
During the 2021-2022 academic year, CTIC collaborated with the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s Working Group on Smartphone Access on an initiative to address this principal barrier to Internet adoption. The Working Group, co-chaired by Vodafone, ITU, and the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS), includes experts from diverse global organizations and government departments. The group appointed Prof. Christopher Yoo as the lead expert. The report, containing detailed case studies and recommendations on addressing device access barriers, was released in conjunction with the convening of the UN General Assembly in September 2022.
1 World Connected also examined community networks as models to address connectivity gaps in underserved communities and found them to be a promising potential solution to closing the digital divide. Knowledge on current initiatives has been fragmented while systematic analysis of existing models has been limited. As a result, CTIC sought to bridge the information gap and identify the likely determinants of a sustainable community network. The team examined 21 networks across different countries and continents for insights into their structure and components and created a database of case studies. The team made findings as to persons involved (users, managers, trainers), technology options, organizational approaches, and environment-related issues. The findings, along with identified success factors and recommendations, are contained in the 2022 CTIC report, Community networks as models to address connectivity gaps in underserved communities. Written by Prof. Yoo, CTIC fellow Leon Gwaka, and former CTIC fellow Müge Haseki, the report will be useful to practitioners implementing community networks.
Education is another major focus for 1 World Connected. Prof. Yoo was named an external expert and advisor for GIGA, a UNICEF- and International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-backed project centered on global school connectivity that aims to connect every school to the Internet by 2030. He served as an expert interviewee in an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report commissioned by Ericsson, an international communications technology company, in partnership with UNICEF, entitled Connecting learners: Narrowing the educational divide. Published in 2021, the report focuses on the benefits from and barriers to improved school connectivity and access to digital learning and revealed that providing connectivity to schools not only empowers children to access to world-class digital content, but also enables local entrepreneurship, online banking access, improved information channels during emergencies, and opportunities for employment through digital platforms and the gig economy.
1 World Connected’s work has expanded to include the social benefits created by extending connectivity. For example, CTIC’s most recently completed research project is a study on the impact of mobile Internet uptake on women in Bangladesh and Ghana in partnership with the GSMA Foundation and GSMA’s Connected Women program. Prof. Yoo, CTIC fellow Leon Gwaka, and former CTIC fellows Müge Haseki and Himani Mehta developed a novel multi-dimensional index to examine the link between mobile Internet use and well-being among men and women. Results identified certain mobile Internet use patterns and effects on well-being that were not previously reported. The study also examined the differences between men and women regarding Internet use, the positive and negative impacts of mobile connectivity, the mechanisms through which mobile Internet connectivity delivers this impact, and the role social norms play in the process. The CTIC team’s research and findings served as the foundation of the GSMA/University of Pennsylvania report, Mobile Internet Use, Well-being and Gender: Understanding the Links, published in 2022. Before the report’s publication, the team presented its findings at the TPRC 50th Annual Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy in September 2021.
The Project Continues
The 1 World Connected team will continue to conduct studies, write publications, make recommendations, and participate in prestigious forums such as the TPRC Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy and the Global Digital Health Forum. CTIC will also continue its collaborations with numerous international organizations to promote Internet accessibility and adoption. These include GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, ITU’s Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, and EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age.
In November 2019, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded CTIC and Penn’s Warren Center for Network & Data Services a $350,000 three-year grant to fund new independent research into the role data play in digital platforms’ business models and the resulting impact on antitrust policy and law. The initiative’s co-leaders are Prof. Christopher Yoo and Rakesh Vohra, the George A. Weiss and Lydia Bravo Weiss University Professor of Economics and Electrical and Systems Engineering and the Warren Center’s founding co-director.
In the inaugural phase, EODS funded nine research proposals in such areas as cloud competition, advertising, data neutrality, smart contracts, and the effect of search engines on the media industry. Authors presented their findings at the Inaugural Economics of Digital Services Research Symposium on September 10-11, 2021. For the second phase of the initiative, EODS awarded five grants in October 2021. The findings were presented at the Second Economics of Digital Services Research Symposium on September 9-10, 2022. Research topics, authors, and links to full papers and blog articles for both symposia are listed here.
In November 2022, CTIC and the Warren Center announced the initiative’s 2023 grant recipients. Findings will be presented at the third symposium on September 8-9, 2023, and posted on the EODS initiative’s website and blog.
In recent years, antitrust has emerged as one of the most important and dynamic areas of law, particularly with respect to high technology industries. At the same time, competition law has become global as China and the European Union have become increasingly important enforcement authorities. The United States, European Commission, and China have brought cases against big tech companies and are in the process of considering legislation that would reform the way competition law principles would apply to digital platforms.
To help contribute to these debates, CTIC initiated a multi-year research project to compare how key antitrust issues are handled in China, the EU, and the United States. Phase one of the project focused on due process in antitrust enforcement. The resulting research had a significant impact on the U.S. Justice Department Antitrust Division and its Multilateral Framework on Procedures, the Framework for Competition Agency Procedures of the International Competition Network (ICN), and the Recommendation on Procedural Fairness of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Christopher Yoo and Yong Huang, Professor and Director of the Competition Law Centre at the University of International Business and Economics and member of the Expert Advisory Committee under the Anti-Monopoly Commission of China’s State Council, presented their findings on October 14, 2020, in an online event moderated by Weiwei Shen GL’12 GRL’18, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Legal Research on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Phase two examined the antitrust issues posed by big data. As legislative proposals have taken an increasingly regulatory turn, the research team laid the foundation for a series of research papers applying insights from the research on past regulatory interventions to evaluate different aspects of future proposals.
The project was supported by Penn Global’s China Research and Engagement Fund and corporate contributors.
During the 2020-21 academic year, Christopher Yoo completed his second two-year term as a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).
The BDAC’s mission was to provide advice and make recommendations to the FCC on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment. Professor Yoo served as a BDAC member from its inception in January 2017 through the conclusion of its work in March 2021.
Building on his prior service on the Working Group charged with drafting a State Model Code for Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure and Investment and the Ad Hoc Committee on Rates and Fees, Professor Yoo focused his more recent efforts on the Working Group for Increasing Broadband Investment in Low-Income Communities. The Working Group concentrated on both deployment and adoption, paying particular attention to insights drawn from responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BDAC adopted its report and recommendations in December 2020.
The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) asked Christopher Yoo and Cary Coglianese to conduct research that served as the basis for recommendations it adopted in December 2020.
The first project, on “Protected Materials in Public Rulemaking Dockets,” was motivated by how the greater opportunity for the public to participate in governmental processes made possible by the Internet has heightened the risks of online disclosure of personally and commercially sensitive information. Agencies must now strike a balance between the need to promote governmental transparency and the obligation to protect individual privacy. The report, written by Professor Yoo, was released on November 24, 2020.
The second project, on “Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence,” explored the questions agencies should consider when deploying artificial intelligence. These include potential bias, transparency, procedural due process, capacity building, and delegation. The Conference commissioned Professor Coglianese to write a report on “A Framework for Governmental Use of Machine Learning,” which was released on December 8, 2020. The Conference adopted Recommendation 2020-2 based on Professor Yoo’s report and Official Statement #20 based on Professor Coglianese’s report on December 16, 2021, at its 73rd Plenary Session. Both were published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2021.
In the News
CTIC 2023 summer fellowship application available
For 1Ls and 2Ls
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine appoints Christopher Yoo to impact of social media committee
Committee focuses on the health and well-being of children and adolescents
APALSA-ALR Conference on Feb. 11––Future of Cybersecurity: Regulatory Impacts on Conglomerates, Silent Warfare and Global Cooperation Efforts
CTIC is a sponsor of this in-person event at Penn Carey Law