Intelsat’s Spengler joins UN broadband initiative

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WASHINGTON — The United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has selected Intelsat’s Chief Executive Stephen Spengler as a commissioner, the company announced today.

The commission, formed in 2010 from a mix of public, private and academic organizations, advocates for broadband internet access as a means to boost global development.

Spengler is the third prominent satellite executive to join the commission, following Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce and Patrick Masambu, director general and CEO of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, ITSO. Washington-based ITSO is tasked with ensuring Intelsat “provides public telecommunications services, including voice, data and video, on a global and non-discriminatory basis,” a vestige from Intelsat’s creation as an international treaty-based organization in 1964. Masambu joined the commission in July.

“Simple and affordable access to information and broadband technology supports and drives economic growth, improves access to healthcare and education, and importantly, builds bridges across communities,” Spengler said in an Aug. 24 statement. “I am honored to accept the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s invitation and look forward to working with leaders from the public and private sectors to accelerate the deployment of network infrastructures that promote a more digitally inclusive global society.”

The United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has 50 such commissioners from around the world, including representatives from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, the GSM Association and Facebook. The UN organization changed its name from the “Broadband Commission for Digital Development” in 2015 to promote information and communications technology and broadband as tools to help the UN pursue the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) it set out in September 2015, which include ending hunger, boosting education and addressing climate change, among others.

In the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s 2016 annual report, Inmarsat’s Pearce touted the advantages of satellite in reaching those goals, saying “Due to their universality and reliability, satellite communications are essential to making substantial progress on all the SDGs.”