News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Friday, November 25, 2005
News: Fund seeks to bridge Digital Divide
When I think of the Digital Divide, the image is usually an American one. Students hurriedly taking notes from online content before their 30-minute time allotment runs out at the public library. Someone told to apply for a job in a store online who replies she doesn't have a computer. Poorly dressed people paying for computer access at Kinko's, while those of us who own our laptops use their Ethernet connections free. An international conference is a reminder that in most of the world, the Digital Divide is more brazen.
Discussion of the Digital Divide in the U.S. has changed from whether people have access to the type of Internet connection available. As recently as 2002, more than 40 percent of Americans did not have home Internet access, usually because they could not afford it. Now, about 70 percent Americans have Internet access at home. Around 35 million homes now have broadband access. But, the low-income are likely to use slow, 56 bps dial-up accounts, which cost about $20 per month. Their more affluent counterparts opt for DSL, cable modems, or increasingly, T1 connections, at speeds at least four times faster than dial-up.
Meanswhile, citizens of developing countries usually lack any Internet access at home, relying on Internet cafes when they are available. Appeals of The Digital Solidarity Fund have failed to attract support so far. That may be because governments in rich countries do not associate high technology with Third World nations. The Fund's policy of linking support for Internet access with health and welfare programs may help. It makes the connection between the ability to send and obtain information efficiently and achieving important societal goals obvious.
Study statistics for Internet access worldwide here.posted by J. | 9:00 PM