The Digital Divide

The internet has allowed humans to connect with one another from half a world away in the click of a button. This is an unprecedented time in history because never before has the spread of information been accomplished in literally no time at all. The internet benefits the lives of everybody that uses it. For example, the internet is a treasure trove of information and knowledge, and it provides humans with endless amounts of entertainment. Furthermore, it makes our daily lives easier with GPS, online banking, government services etc., and it even allows us the opportunity to make money, whether it is through managing a business, or generating ad-revenue.

Image Source: DIS-LB

With all of these amazing benefits you would think that every person on Earth would have access to and use the internet. However, you would be surprised to find out that nearly 15% of Americans and 20% of all Canadians do NOT use or have access to the internet. Reasons for not using the Internet vary from being technically inexperienced to not having the available funds to purchase a compatible device/ internet service. Also, another reason stated by households with no internet access was that they had no need/interest/reason to use the internet. In a study done by Statistics Canada, the digital divide was more pronounced when looking at the income group of families. For example, 46% of Canadian homes with an income of $30,000 and less had no access to the internet. Also, these families typically lived in rural areas/towns. In rural areas, it is harder to gain access to a reliable broadband internet connection because of the lack of signal towers and the lack of DSL and cable lines. Furthermore, developing countries tend to have less internet users than that of developed countries.

Image Source: The Nature of Cities

It can be argued that internet access is a basic service rather than a luxury. In order to bridge the digital gap, many ideas such as Project Loon have attempted to connect users from rural and remote areas to the internet. Project Loon consists of a fleet of balloons floating around the edge of space. High speed internet is simply transmitted up to the nearest balloon from a telecommunications center on the ground and relayed across the balloon fleet and then down to users on the ground. Mark Zuckerberg has also taken the initiative to connect 5 billion users to the internet, and he hopes that by Facebook will have 5 billion members by 2030. In an attempt to expand internet coverage in developing countries, Mark Zuckerberg has invested in his own infrastructure including satellites and solar powered drones.

Image Source: The New Economy

In this day and age, internet access has become crucial in the development of society. Internet access allows people in rural/developing areas the ability to engage in day to day activities with ease. Also, communities with high quality internet access experience job and business growth, while longer term benefits include population growth, per capita income growth, and GDP growth .

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