Free Essay

Rural Internet

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By clamberson
Words 2448
Pages 10
The Digital Divide
Carrie Lamberson
INF 103 Computer Literacy
Jaclyn Minor
November 9 2015

We live in an age of technology being a part of our everyday lives, with the majority of the population owning smartphones, computers, and tablets. Using broadband connections giving us the fastest speeds as we explore the information highway and staying connected to the world around us. “In 2004 there was an estimated 75% of Americans with computers and internet access in their homes, these numbers continue to rise with each year. While this is a high number, and growing daily (especially among multiple-computer households) there are still a significant number of people without computers or Internet access, and they are getting left behind in school and in the workplace.”(Bowles 2013) This is what has become known as the digital divide and an area that needs to be address so that we are all can be equal in a technical world. “Digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communication technology (ITC), and those that don't or have restricted access.” (Rouse 2014) ”Computers and the Internet represent a wealth of knowledge for those who have access to them. As another old saying goes, "Knowledge ispower." Therefore, it stands to reason that there are ethical issues at stake when using computers to transmit knowledge. It is vital to make surethat the world is not divided into a two-class society of "information-haves" and "information-have-nots."”(Bowles 2013) “The digital divide typically exists between those in cities and those in rural areas; between the educated and the uneducated; between socioeconomic groups; and, globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations. Even among populations with some access to technology, the digital divide can be evident in the form of lower-performance computers, lower-speed wireless connections, lower-priced connections such as dial-up, and limited access to subscription-based content.”(Rouse 2014) Living in Eugene Oregon, a highly populated college town, I have complete access to computers, the internet and high speed broadband. If you travel fifty miles to the east, west or south it is a different story. There is less access to the internet or technology. These are the areas when you travel through them you lose service to your Wi-Fi, smartphones and other technology, because they are the less populated rural areas of Oregon that does not have service to run these devices. This issue is not just an issue for my state but for many states throughout our country. When electricity was invented, the rural areas where the last to get it and it is the same with information and communication technology. There are approximately 62 million Americans living in rural areas. Rural Americans reside in 80 percent of the total U.S. land area but only comprise 20 percent of the U.S. population. The average median income for rural U.S. residents is $40,615 compared to $51,831 for urban residents. Approximately 15.4 percent of rural U.S. residents live in poverty compared to 11.9 percent of urban residents.”(National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health 2015) These statics land rural America into two of the digital divide demographics of region and income. In the rural area of East Granville, Vermont lives a 17 year boy named Phelyan Martin, who is a perfect example of the regional demographic of the digital divide. He is a high school senior that does not have access to the internet in his home. Broadband is not available, satellite is too expensive and dial up is too slow that the family doesn’t even bother. Before he leaves school he has to download any web pages he needs and when he is home he cannot email his teachers or classmates when questions arise. The lack of internet because a huge problem for Phelyan as he is beginning to apply for colleges. With college application and finical aid papers being solely online he had to fill them out at school or using the broadband internet at his mom’s office. Due to the lack of internet in his rural area it made it impossible for him to get his applications in early. "It's been really tough to coordinate things, and I feel like it's put me at a disadvantage," Pheylan says. (Smith 2011) The lack of internet and broadband connections in rural areas of our country is leaving these people in the dark ages of technology. “75 years ago private companies would not run powerlines into the out most reaches of the rural areas. It wasn’t until President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the federal government stepped in and created the Rural Electrification Administration and brought electricity to all of these areas. "This is like electricity was," says Brian Depew of the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Nebraska. "This is a critical utility." (Smith 2011) "You often hear people talk about broadband from a business development perspective, but it's much more significant than that," Depew says. "This is about whether rural communities are going to participate in our democratic society. If you don't have effective broadband, you are cut out of things that are really core to who we are as a country." (Smith 2011) There are 11 million people in rural areas that do not have access to broadband internet. “The Obama administration thinks it is a serious problem, and it has allocated $7.2 billion in stimulus money to improving Internet access in the United States, particularly in rural areas.” (Smith 2011) Broadband internet has revolutionize this country and it could do the same for the rural areas. Giving people the chance to pay bills, shop, go to school and run businesses online. The lack of broadband internet in these areas have been an obstacle for job creation and job searching. Some companies and government offices only have their job postings and applications online. For those who don’t have access will be at a huge disadvantage to finding employment. “Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who has pledged to get high-speed Internet service to the entire state by 2013, says Vermont currently ranks behind China, Vietnam, Bosnia, and Croatia in terms of connectivity. ’It's a huge obstacle to job creation," Shumlin says. "High-speed broadband and cellphone service are the electricity of the modem age."”(Smith 2011) The other issue is that with the younger generations being linked directly with technology they will not live or stay in small towns in rural America. This will in time turn these areas into ghost towns instead of them growing and prospering which in turns strengthens our country as a whole. Paul Costello, executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development, echoes the Governor. "Young people, being digital natives, will not live where they aren't able to be connected," Costello says. "That's a problem because young people are the foundation for that wave of innovation that's essential to the progress of any rural community in America."(Smith 2011) Access to broadband internet is only half of the problem, cost and effectiveness is the other part of it. In Northern Alabama they are facing the same issues with only having access to dial up or satellite connections. Like Vermont dial up is the connection most people have for their internet. Many struggle with how slow it is and in the end don’t bother using the internet at all. The second choice is satellite and we have been learning that it is not any better than dial up and for most of the population to expensive. “Joyce Graham, who oversees Web-based classes at Coffeeville High School in Coffeeville, Alabama, struggled with dialup service at her home for years. In January, she started buying satellite service with help from federal stimulus money. "For most people out here, satellite is all you can get, and it's $70 a month," she says. "Now who is going to pay that? This is a poor, rural county." Even if they can afford it, many people find satellite service frustrating: It's often not fast enough to download video or conduct a video conference. And many satellite services cap the amount of bandwidth they'll allow each customer and bump them down to dialup speed if they go over there limit.” (Smith 2011) With this it is plain to see that dial up or satellite are not adequate and the only option to bring the whole country up to speed is to bring broadband internet to all the areas of the country. “In terms of connectivity, the U.S. is falling behind other countries” says Darrell West of the Brookings Institution, "Broadband is like the interstate highway system," West says. "It's an infrastructure system that lays the groundwork for economic development in a variety of different areas. Unless we can close the digital divide, large parts of the country are going to remain outside the technology revolution and aren't going to get the benefits of new advances."(Smith 2011) Bridging the digital divide should be a priority of this country. Every citizen should be able to have access to the internet and communication technology and being equal with the knowledge and opportunities it has to offer. Knowledge is power and it is unethical that only half the population of America has the ability to obtain that power. “Broadband technologies are currently being deployed primarily by the private sector throughout the United States. While the numbers of new broadband subscribers of broadband deployment in urban/suburban and high income areas is outpacing deployment in rural and low income areas.”(Congressional Digest 2013) With this being in the hands of private companies it is unlikely they are willing to bring broadband internet to these rural areas because it would not be cost effective. If there is a chance that they do bring these services to the rural areas the cost of the broadband internet would be way more than any of these families could afford. Bottom line the private sector is all about the bottom line and not about giving all citizens access to the internet and bringing them out of the dark ages. To bridge this gap we will need to bring in the federal government, to ensure that the lower income rural areas have the same opportunities as the wealthier urban areas. “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 addressed the issue of whether the Federal Government should intervene to prevent a “digital divide” in broadband access. Section 706 requires the FCC to determine whether “advanced telecommunications capability [i.e., broadband or high speed access] is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The FCC also determined “that as of June 30, 2011, approximately 19 million Americans did not have access to fixed broadband. Significantly, approximately 76 percent of these Americans reside in rural areas.” (Congressional Digest 2013) “With this information the FCC has proposed the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in hopes that this will bridge the gap in our country and the digital divide. NBP seeks to “create a high-performance America,” which the FCC defines as “a more productive, creative, efficient America in which affordable broadband is available everywhere and everyone has the means and skills to use valuable broadband applications.”(Congressional Digest 2013) In order to achieve this mission, the NBP recommends that the country set six goals for 2020:
● Goal No. 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second. (Congressional Digest 2013)
● Goal No. 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation. (Congressional Digest 2013)
● Goal No. 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose. (Congressional Digest 2013)
● Goal No. 4: Every American community should have affordable access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals, and government buildings. (Congressional Digest 2013)
● Goal No. 5: To ensure the safety of the American people, every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network. (Congressional Digest 2013)
● Goal No. 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.” (Congressional Digest 2013) The NBP in broken up into three areas to in the end close the digital divide gap.
Part I: Innovation and Investment — which “discusses recommendations to maximize innovation, investment and consumer welfare, primarily through competition. It then recommends more efficient allocation and management of assets, government controls, or influences.” (Congressional Digest 2013)
Part II: Inclusion — which “makes recommendations to promote inclusion — to ensure that all Americans have access to the opportunities broadband can provide.” (Congressional Digest 2013)
Part III: National Purposes — which “makes recommendations to maximize the use of broadband to address national priorities. This includes reforming laws, policies, and incentives to maximize the benefits of broadband in areas where government plays a significant role.” (Congressional Digest 2013) The NBP is seen as a step towards a National Broadband Policy and making the use of affordable broadband internet available to all citizens of the United States of America. Giving the entire American population the tools of power, knowledge, advancement and opportunities will lead our nation into being the strong nation we once were. In a statement from President Obama, he says, “My Administration will build upon our efforts over the past year to make America’s nationwide broadband infrastructure the world’s most powerful platform for economic growth and prosperity, including improving access to mobile broadband, maximizing technology innovation, and supporting a nationwide, interoperable public safety wireless broadband network.” (Congressional Digest 2013) I believe that this is some of the first step that we are taking to close the gap of the digital divide in our great country.

References * About Rural Health in America, General Statistics Copyright 2015, National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health http://celebratepowerofrural.org/?page_id=30 * Access to Telecommunications Technology: Bridging the Digital Divide in the United States. (2013). Congressional Digest, 92(4), 2. MasterFILE Premier * Digital Divide Margaret Rouse June 2014 http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/digital-divide?&session-id=af615f3914da02379f36bec8f0b6cf7e * Mark D Bowles(2013), Introduction to Digital Literacy, Bridgeport education Inc., Chapter 1 Section 3 * Smith, P. (2011, May 09). The digital divide. New York Times Upfront, 143, 6-7. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/865654926?accountid=32521

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