The USA vs. Digital Divides

The United States of America has been at the forefront of the construction and deployment of the internet. We have also been a world leader at generating the content for it. Our country as filled the internet with everything from the complete works of Shakespeare, to an accessible way to obtain free healthcare. The United States of America has been a leader in digitization of government accessibility, and the rest of the world needs to catch up. This includes the international community. Our history of breaking internet boundaries extends from the original ARPANET through all of today’s advanced mobile phone networks. For decades, American engineers, consumers and companies have paved the way for advances in networking and computer applications. Today, nearly every American can access the Internet to some degree. The United States is actually numerically the world leader in scope of availability of advanced wireless broadband Internet services, such as 4G LTE. Unfortunately, the benefits of this long torrent of access to technology has been distributed unevenly. Millions of Americans still do not use the many services that the internet offers with any frequency or regularity. Research shows that there remains significant inequity in both Internet usage and the quality of access. This difference in access has come to be known as the “digital divide”. This deficit of access is felt worst among older, less educated, and less affluent American populations. Regionally, rural parts of the country that tend to have fewer choices and slower connections.

Closing the Divide has the potential to increase productivity and open paths to improving the quality of life of an individual or a whole population. President Obama has made expanding broadband Internet access a relatively higher priority in the past few years. Since 2009, federal government investments in closing the Divide have led to the deployment or enhancement of well over one hundred thousand miles of computer network infrastructure in the United States. In that same time, forty-five million Americans have adopted broadband internet. The President’s internet initiative titled ConnectED aims to connect virtually all American students to highspeed broadband in their classrooms in the next two years. In January of 2016, the President announced several other policies that his administration planned to take to ensure reliable broadband to more Americans at a decreased cost. These included efforts to promote community-based hardware for improving broadband and a call for State and local governments to strike down “short-sighted regulations that restrict competition”.