Digital Inclusion is Key to Closing the Digital Divide

Date:   Monday , November 14, 2016

Headquartered in the U.S., Axiom Technologies is the provider of Broadband services along with IT services, online and offline logistic, hardware, software, security & marketing solutions. The entity is known for possessing the technical knowledge, creativity, and flexibility in finding the best solutions in challenging business environments.

Imagine how different your world would be if you did not have an internet connection. There are over 4.2 billion homes in the world that are not connected. This is a problem that is creating a divide, a digital divide, where those who have a connection are increasingly prosperous and participating in on-line 21st Century activities and those that cannot. As the owner of a telecommunications and internet service provider company committed to connecting last-mile customers in remote communities, I have always believed that through internet connectivity and education you can change the economic status of a region. Bridging the Digital Divide is much more than a fast internet connection, it’s about people’s livelihood and well-being.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Digital divide is an economic and social inequality with regard to access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies’. The digital divide is caused by two things, lack of broadband connectivity and digital inclusion. But ‘connecting’ homes is only addressing part of the problem in closing the digital divide. We can build world-class broadband networks, but unless people understand how to use it and integrate into their daily lives, what is the value of what we have built? Many dedicated organizations and individuals have provided 1000s of citizens and 100s of businesses at no cost or low cost educational classes, enhanced public computer access, low-cost computers and have installed pubic hotspots as important tools for communities’ access.

Digital inclusion is key to closing the digital divide. Digital inclusion is a national priority in the United States, and should be a high priority throughout the world. High-speed internet access is widely recognized as a necessity for full participation in today’s society. Employers, educators, businesses, healthcare providers, and civic institutions expect people to have access to computers and broadband connectivity. However, accessible, reliable, and affordable broadband service continues to be out of reach for millions of Americans and global citizens, many of whom live in low-income households. This gap in adoption of high-speed internet and the lack of skills needed to use broadband-enabled tools in meaningful ways continue to be significant problems that policymakers, researchers, and practitioners need to focus on in the U.S. and around the world.

Digital inclusion includes the following:

Affordable Internet: How much someone can afford to pay for broadband continues to be a barrier to broadband adoption. Finding programs that can help reduce cost for low-income families will help increase the adoption rate and give people the ability to access technology and the Internet.

Affordable Equipment: Low-cost or free computers are often just as important as having access to low-cost or free Internet options, particularly for people in low-income communities. Many organizations have embraced this reality by refurbishing older computers donated by businesses and making them available to low-income homes and non-profit organizations at a free or reduced cost.

Digital Literacy Training: Computer Skills Training/Digital Literacy Training plays a critical role in technology and workforce development training. It is vital to addressing business and individual development needs and skill inadequacies. The need for improved digital literacy skills heightens as companies and individuals seek to grow, increase workflow efficiencies, and compete in changing industry. Digital Literacy has been shown to be a catalyst for employer engagement and is a path to additional conversations about educational and workforce skills training.

Public Computer Access: Increasing Public Access Computing/Community WiFi HotSpots that allow residents to access technology in places in which they feel comfortable and supported is essential. These spaces can also complement digital literacy classes that are often offered in the same location. If an individual cannot afford broadband or afford technology equipment, public computer access is essential.

What do we need to do to close the ‘digital divide’? We need to continue to bring broadband service to the ‘unserved’ homes – homes that have no internet service available. We have to increase capacity of existing broadband networks – we are increasing the use and dependency on robust internet every day and more capacity is needed. We need to support digital inclusion efforts. We have to teach people how to use technology and integrate it into their everyday lives. Many of us in the industry are doing our part, we challenge others to do the same, 4.2 billion homes are counting on it.