Many Americans are being left behind by the digital divide.

By:  Breaie                                                                                                                         www.breaie.com

We can go to the internet café that offers free WIFI, and as long as we pay the bill on time for home access or cell phone bill, we get to access the internet.  Many of us take the internet for granted.  Most of us have forgotten that internet access now covers almost every aspect of our lives now to be a  able to be a functioning member of society as well as being a form of creative freedom of expression.

People who live in rural areas have limited to no access to the internet.   Some rural areas offer satellite access which is very expensive and slow, or dial up which is at extremely slow speeds.  Both offer capped data plans.  The majority of the States across the US don’t offer unlimited internet access for their home access use.  If you have a business and are willing to pay outrageous rates, you can have access to unreliable unlimited internet access with horrible customer service. A rare few States do offer unlimited internet data for home use that are reasonably priced.

Many companies that have offered unlimited data plans are now experimenting with data limits along with paying a penalty for going over the allotted limit and for extra GB for home internet use.  The internet providers are doing our country a huge disservice by capping data plans and charging extra for overages.

The massive increase in costs for consumers whose incomes are not going up with inflation are being left behind on internet access as well.  Numerous people living in urban areas don’t have access to WIFI due to connectivity costs and or have access to computers to access the internet.

The Pew Research Center research released some information dated December 21, 2015 that shows internet access has slipped from 70% to 67% in 2013.  Costs were the number one reason people didn’t have internet access.  For many people, their only access to the internet is through their cell phones.  For many income challenged and rural dwellers, their cell phone is the only access to the internet which has increased from 8% to 13% in 2015 (per Pew Research).

The consequences of the inability to access the internet and expensive limited data plans offered have long term effects on our nation as well as other countries facing the same issue.  Here is one example, most schools now require homework submissions, participation, and learning to take place online as well as in the classroom.  Students who can’t access the internet because of rural areas or income is creating a digital divide in the educational system for our up and coming generations which are lagging behind the rest of the world in educational rank.

Lack of access to the internet “AKA” being “disconnected” is main cause some people stay poor, uneducated, lack internet/application use skills, and remain uninformed.  Many important transactions are all taking place online now.  For example, job applications, having a professional online profile on sites like Linkedin.com can prevent many from job opportunities.  Online bill pay, learning, exploring, keeping up with latest software such as Google docs, Microsoft Word in the cloud, and other free tools becomes difficult or impossible.  These people are being left behind in the technology realm.

Many people are being barred out of becoming an online entrepreneur(s) in the rural areas and in urban sections due to online access capacity.  The economy is not creating enough jobs for everyone that wants to work (have to work.. let’s get real here), so many turn to self-employment or entrepreneurship.  One way many earn money online is by creating a laptop business of some sort.  People with limited to no access to the internet can’t grasp the opportunity to generate ideas to make an income online.  They lose out on learning new skills, offering products, or services and get left behind.

The effects of the lack of access and affordability to the capped internet on some populations has a negative effect on the United States’ productivity and economic growth. An article written by Wired reports that the United Nations released a report in 2011 states “ that disconnecting people from the internet is a human rights violation and against international law”.

Meanwhile in countries around the world, many citizens are offered free WIFI access with much faster connectivity speeds than the USA with no mention of any data limitations imposed.  The USA barely made the list on internet speeds for 2016. The previous year, we were not on the list.  The country Estonia offers free internet access everywhere to their citizens and visitors.  Here are some additional cities that are the most connected for free WIFI:

Taipei Taiwan

Florence Italy

Tel Av iv Israel

Helsinki Finland

Hong Kong

Macau China

Paris France

New York USA

Perth Australia

Microsoft Corporation is jumping into WIFI connectivity business now.  Microsoft is exploring the possibility of unused TV signals could be a solution to rural broadband access in the very near future.  These waves reach long distances.  Testing has been ongoing for over a decade now in the US and abroad. The test cities are located in Charlotte and Halifax counties in Virginia.

Since we all get TV signals for free, the internet using these frequencies to create access to WIFI would be considered free access.  However, Microsoft intends to charge for this type of internet access.  I understand there may be some costs involved getting equipment, employees, and contractors, red tape, over bearing government regulations, or something to get this type of WIFI set up, but really??  Basic TV signals are free.

I’m a capitalist as well, but our country as well as other nations need to allow all people every opportunity to stay connected.

Many thank yous to the people at https://pixabay.com   for the picture they have provided.

www.breaie.com

https://www.wired.com/2016/06/sorry-time-start-counting-gigabytes-home/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/internet-access-digital-age_n_1285423.html

http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/12/21/home-broadband-2015/ 

http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/lack-of-internet-access-puts-low-income-and-rural-school-children-at-disadvantage-160223?news=858355

https://www.wired.com/2011/06/internet-a-human-right/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/internet-access-digital-age_n_1285423.html

http://blog.rottenwifi.com/top-20-countries-fastest-public-wifi-2016-infographic/

https://mic.com/articles/93826/if-you-live-in-this-country-you-ll-have-free-wifi-access-everywhere-you-go#.oC34W6fqh

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/advice/Free-Wi-Fi-networks-the-worlds-most-connected-cities/

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/microsoft-wants-bring-broadband-rural-americans-163506493.html

 

 

Post Author: Breaie