Posts Taged wireless-broadband

To Bridge the Urban Digital Divide We Need A Better Infrastructure and New Thinking

Urndigdivide

When you hear talk about the FCC creating plans to create equal levels of internet access for all, most of those plans don’t really take in to account how to bridge the divide in urban and rural areas for minorities. The government does not have the money to do it on their own. They also seem to take a general swipe approach to how to solve the broadband problem without taking into account that problem need to be solved in multiple ways for different groups. The two areas that I believe they are looking at all wrong.

Infrastructure

There are areas of the country where the current infrastructure can not give it’s inhabitants access to current internet technology. Those areas are primarily rural areas and lower income urban areas. In both these causes the current wired internet products are not readily available and there is no short term plans to change that. Because of that limitation Both of those audiences have taken advantage of wireless to get their access Although the rural areas in some cases still struggle because currently most wires networks don’t reach all rural areas. The ATT /T-Mobile deal would have solved this problem for many of those areas but that is currently not moving forward. No one else has stepped up to offer a solution for this problem which leads me to have concerns that the people in these areas would be left behind.

Digital Literacy  and Empowerment

People believe cost is the biggest barrier to increasing adoption.  I don’t agree.  I believe that the real issue is the lack of digital literacy among minorities which limits the ability to see the value they can get from broadband. The mobile device is a great example. Mobile usage among African Americans and Hispanics is growing at a rapid pace.  We have come to understand the value that broadband wireless access adds to our lives in various areas ( education, Employment, healthcare, etc..) SO even in lower income areas you have seen growth in smartphone purchases because in the investment empowers those users various areas. I’ve seen in many times when I’ve spoken to large groups  that once that light bulb moment occurs when the people in the room see how it creates value in their lives, the perception immediately changes.

If we really want to see Urban Digital Divide close then these are two areas we need to focus on and the private sector has to play a part for to happen quickly and we have to play a part for the value to be clear and obvious.

DC Adds Ultra fast Network To Bridge Digital Divide

The district of DC is dvided in terms of it’s access to broadband services. Some areas are at 97% connectivity while others are barely at 30%

Those divisions exist even in the world of bits and bytes, unfortunately, with access to broadband services reaching 97 percent in Ward 3 while barely hitting the 40 percent mark in some communities east of the Anacostia River.

That is about the change. The mayor recently announced a citywide ultra fast broadband network.

“Funded by a $17 million federal grant, city officials hope that the 170-mile network known as DC-CAN will increase internet use in under-served communities and bring down costs for all District residents.”

The goals is allow groups and business to use this high speed network to offer wireless services to those who need it the most and increase internet use overall. Let’s hope other cities see the importance of this and follow this model.

Broadband Use Can Save You Thousands A Year, Sadly The Digital Divide Keeps It From People Who Need It Most

I just saved $600 on a flight by booking it online. I stay at 4 start hotels for under $200 a night because i can access services like hotwire and HotelTonight on my mobile phone. Those are just a few examples of how access to the internet can give you significant savings.
But sadly many minorities cannot take advantage of these savings because they don’t have internet access. As the benefits to broadband access increase, so does the divide between the people who have access and those who do not. Digital literacy and access is key to closing the divide so that the people who need these savings the most can take advantage of these benefits.

Cell Phone Use Continues to be the Driver for Minority Access

black-couple-using-cellphones

The latest Pew report was published about Cell phone usage and it continues to show what increasingly more and more people are starting to realize, that wireless is the key driver to closing the digital divide. You can find the report here but all the data points to how mobile broadband is continuing to provide access to minorities to services that they otherwise would not be connected to. IF you look at the chart of mobile activities by race, the growth is fairly obvious.  But even with this data showing the need for more coverage in areas where Minorities currently do not have adequate coverage. People still work to block actions like the ATT merger which would help solve this  issue but they don’t offer any other solutions to replace it.  As you look through this study is clear everyone’s focus should be on universal access.

Governement Officials Tout benefits of AT&T Merger

House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith made pitch urging federal regulators to see the benefits of the AT&T/T-mobile merger. He joins a growing list of supporters touting the benefits of the merger to groups that are directly involved in making the decision.   He also make statements question how the opponents looked at the deal  and did not see the benefits. Smith cited specific reasons as to why the opponents should see this merger as beneficial:

Smith, whose committee reviewed the transaction, wrote to federal regulators on Monday, asking them to keep in mind benefits of the deal including improved cell service, more efficient use of spectrum, and expansion of advance wireless broadband services to 97 percent of Americans.”

It will interesting to see if his opponents take a second look at the facts that he raised. You can read the full story here

FCC Prepares for the Future By Opening Technology Experience Center

fcctech

Today the FCC Chairman unveiled the technology experience center today in DC. On their website they speak to why this is important.

“This Wednesday, July 13th, Chairman Julius Genachowski will host the grand opening of the FCC’s Technology Experience Center at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. This unique center is an innovative resource for all FCC employees and visitors to engage directly with the latest technologies, which the agency accepts as donations.  Each month, we will focus a portion of the technologies around a specific theme.”

It’s encouraging to see the “eat their own dogfood” in tech terms by experiencing first hand how mobile broadband has and will continue to transform everyday life. The center will also be open to visitors which will also allow them to see how people interact with the technology. My hope is this will confirm for  them even more  that wireless broadband is needed for everyone.