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The Digital Divide

Contents
Introduction........................................................................................................... 2
Local and Global................................................................................................. 2
Global Divide......................................................................................................... 2
Introduction........................................................................................................ 2
Factors Contributing to the Divide......................................................................2
Economic......................................................................................................... 2
Geographic...................................................................................................... 3
Political............................................................................................................ 3
Narrowing the gap.............................................................................................. 4
The impact of the digital divide on peoples lives and opportunities..................5
Economic......................................................................................................... 5
Social............................................................................................................... 6
Educational...................................................................................................... 7
The extent of the digital divide........................................................................7
Global Conclusion............................................................................................... 8
Local Divide........................................................................................................... 8
Introduction........................................................................................................ 8
Factors Contributing to the Divide......................................................................8
Economic......................................................................................................... 8
Geographic...................................................................................................... 9
Social............................................................................................................... 9
Narrowing the gap............................................................................................ 10
The impact of the digital divide on peoples lives and opportunities................11
Economic....................................................................................................... 11
Social............................................................................................................. 11
Educational.................................................................................................... 11
The extent of the digital divide locally..............................................................12
Local Conclusion............................................................................................... 12
Overall Conclusion............................................................................................... 12
Bibliography......................................................................................................... 12

Introduction
During this report I will explain what the digital divide are both globally and
locally and how it affects people around the world along with what organisations
are doing to help it. A definition of the digital divide: A term used to describe the
discrepancy between people who have access to and the resources to use new
information and communication tools, such as the Internet, and people who do
not have the resources and access to the technology. The term also describes
the discrepancy between those who have the skills, knowledge and abilities to
use the technologies and those who do not. The digital divide can exist between
those living in rural areas and those living in urban areas, between the educated
and uneducated, between economic classes, and on a global scale between
more and less industrially developed nations. (Webopedia) This definition tells
us that the digital divide is the divide between people who have access to
modern technology and those who dont, it also tells us different groups of
people that this affects such as rural and urban groups and more developed
countries along with less developed countries. The digital divide can easily be
measured by how many phone lines there are in a country and how big the
internet usage is from a country along with other technological factors.

Local and Global


The global divide is the divide between countries with access to technology such
as computers and mobile phones, more developed countries can get technology
while less developed countries cannot get technology. Local divide is the division
between urban and rural areas, rural areas often dont have the same
infrastructure as urban areas meaning they dont get the same level of
technology while urban areas often have better internet or cheaper electricity.
Local and Global divide are basically the same thing however one is on a country
wide scale while the other is places within a country.

Global Divide
Introduction
The global divide is the divide between the technologies different countries have,
more economically developed countries often have better access to technology
such as the internet while less economically developed countries dont have the
same level of access to technology. While this is true for most countries some do
break the pattern such as China which while being a successfully advanced
country blocks some of the internet from its citizens for multiple reasons.

Factors Contributing to the Divide


Economic
Governments and Organisations in poorer countries do not have the money to
purchase computers or to install internet around the country, this is one of the

main reasons the digital divide exists since countries that are poorer cannot
afford the technology to compete with the bigger countries. Poorer less
developed countries cannot afford to spend money on computers and phones as
they need to spend their money on more important things such as food and
shelter, a lot of these countries dont have free health care either so any spare
money is often saved for when it is needed most.
Poorer countries do not have the money needed to pay for the infrastructure that
makes their country able to use technology such as electricity and internet,
without this there isnt much point in countries spending money on computer
programs as they will not have the energy to run it or the internet to use on it.
Individually people in these countries do not have the funds necessary to pay for
internet and electricity let alone a computer, businesses in these areas might be
better off as they can afford to purchase electricity and internet but they
probably will not have the funds to purchase many computers for everyone in
the company or to afford automated production.

(, 2013)

((W163), 2013)

These two maps show that areas with lower levels of broadband penetration also
had a lower GDP, this is true for places in Africa and southern America along with
Asia and Russia, and areas with high broadband penetration like Australia,
Europe and North America all have a high GDP.

Geographic
Many countries that are less developed are often in areas where it would not be
geographically possible or economical to install internet and electricity there, for
instance mountainous countries would be difficult to install electricity to as it
would mean that you would have to install wires going through or around
mountains which would either be very expensive or impossible to do. Some
countries are also very rural with the majority of the population living in sparse
villages, this would also be difficult to install electricity and internet to as it would
mean having a large network spread out across the whole country which would
not be very stable. On the other hand some countries have a population living
close to each other in squalor; this would also be difficult as it would be hard to
install the wires. Overall Geographic factors can be the decider for an area
receiving vital infrastructure such as internet and electricity as it can make it

nearly impossible or make it cost a lot of money to install. Areas without access
to these basic infrastructures are at risk of driving away people who might
potentially be settling in these areas; Randeep Ramesh writes for the guardian
that almost 60% of urban areas are able to receive a cable-based broadband
service, while in villages and hamlets this drops to 1.5%. this was a big reason
that people were leaving rural areas to head to more urban places. (Ramesh,
2010)
Political
Some countries both developed and not-developed may block and limit the
access to technology for political reasons. China is a good example of this, some
websites are blocked in China because of the content that is put on them, for
instance YouTube is blocked in China for fear that the Chinese people may see
something the government does not want them to see; however China also
blocks some websites because it wants to promote its own companies, for
instance Facebook is blocked in China but Chinas own Facebook variants Renren
and kaixin001 support 100 Million users between them (Moore, 2010).

This is a picture comparison of kaixin001 and Facebook, the two are very similar
but Facebook is blocked in China in order to promote kaixin001.
Another example of this is North Korea, North Korea is a much poorer country
than China and many of its people do not have internet access or electricity;
many places in North Korea do not have running water either. However, even
though they do not have internet in many parts of North Korea with only 17 IP
addresses (Internet Statistics North Korea), the internet is still heavily censored,
this is because the government is a dictatorship and only sites that the
government deems safe can be shown to the general public, the websites that
the North Korean government deems safe are often filled with north Korean
propaganda and these websites are often under the governments control. In fact,
the only internet that the people can access is known as Kwangmyong, this
incorporates many features from the actual internet such as e-mail, news and
information on different topics such as science and maths.

Narrowing the gap


The mobile phone is very important in modern day society; it allows us to keep in
contact with friends and family thus allowing us to lead bigger and better social
lives, mobile phones also allow us to work from home and to perform other
services such as banking. Less developed countries dont have access to phones
though meaning that businesses cannot perform as efficiently and that people
cannot keep in contact with each other. This means that countries that cannot
afford mobile phones are at a significant disadvantage to other countries which
can afford to have mobile phones. This mobile phones metaphor can be applied
to nearly any technology in a country such as computers, radio or even a printer
as countries that dont have access to these technologies dont have the same
level of efficiency or work that other countries have.

(Mobile Internet)
This graph shows that the global use of mobile phones is increasing as the
population increases, soon both lines should meet as the mobile subscriptions
are increasing faster than the population is, this means that everyone will have
access to a mobile phone severely narrowing the digital divide.
Green Wi-Fi is a company which provides internet for people in developing
countries, they provide them with solar powered Wi-Fi hotspots hooked up to a
battery to keep power, when multiple of these are combined it allows people in
the community to create a broadband network which they can work with,
recently they set up Wi-Fi hotspots in a school in Haiti for the children and
instructed some of the teachers in how to use the internet to set up servers and
email addresses, they raised enough money to get 500 laptops up and running
and were also able to set up solar panels to charge them. (Green Wi-Fi
Corporation)
Another company which helps set up internet and technology in developing
countries is Invenoa a non-profit organisation which works to deliver computers
and broadband to developing countries which is sustainable they also help teach
people how to set up and use computers along with ways to use them
sustainably and at a low cost to the community using them. Since 2006 Invenoa
has brought this to 1,000 communities across Haiti and South Asia and has
helped bring it to 24 countries across the Sub-Saharan desert. (Invenoa
Organisation)

Finally Interconnection provides computers to third world countries and people in


underserved communities around the world; they do this by recycling old
computers and delivering them. Interconnection also provides NGOs with
recycled computers to use and to send to other countries, this way they are able
to help countries both directly and indirectly. (Interconnection Organisation)
An example of a city that help promote technology would be the Hong Kong
government who feel strongly about promoting their position as a digital city and
to that extent they have designed the Digital 21 strategy where they promote
the use of ICT in the city, Hong Kongs penetration rates for broadband
connection and mobile phones are among the highest in the world and their
pricing offered by the service providers is cheap and very competitive, the
government also installed free Wi-Fi hotspots in major government premises to
provide free access to the internet for citizens. According to the page at
Wikipedia Hong Kong is ranked 57th on the scale of internet usage and 44 on
broadband penetrations, this is within the top 25% out of nearly 210 countries.
(List of Countries by internet usage)

The impact of the digital divide on peoples lives and


opportunities
Not having technology impacts peoples lives both socially and economically
because it means they dont have the ability to work efficiently and they ability
to stay in contact with their friends, this can limit their lives as they cannot
effectively communicate with others and businesses dont have access to the
technology that they need to efficiently work.
Economic
Technology can easily impact the economic side of a country, countries that
dont have access to technology such as computers are severely limited on what
kinds of jobs they have, if you cannot run computers then you cant have jobs
that need computers such as automatic production, large stores and any
businesses that receive emails and phone calls. This can severely impact an
economy as it means that other countries can have specialised businesses that
you cant have. Use of technology also improves the GDP of countries, the higher
the internet use and broadband penetration the higher the GDP of a country is
likely to be.
Business
Businesses that work with computers and phones also have access to larger
markets as they can send and receive messages allowing them to take orders
from many different places. Businesses also get access to different markets
which may pay a higher price for their goods or for the services they provide.
Technology also means that businesses can communicate efficiently between
one another with emails and phones, this means they can work more efficiently
and are able to expand into different branches that can all keep in touch. If a
country has technology it also means it can capitalise on its major exports since
it has the technology to communicate and sell its products to other people.

Businesses also need access to technology that provides automate production


and management software, if companies dont have these technologies they will
not be able to produce goods as cheaply as other companies or at the same rate,
companies that are also mainly office based will suffer without some kind of
management software with which they can look after their employees with, this
allows them it manage who works on what project, who is in work that day and
what the employees are doing on their computer.
A big disadvantage to the digital divide is that people with access to this
technology will be able to sell more products at a cheaper price where as people
who dont have access to this level of technology will not be able to sell their
products as other companies are doing it, this means the people with access to
technology will be able to afford better technology because they are selling their
products, while the people who dont have access to technology wont make any
money so they still cannot afford any technology meaning the rich get richer
while the poor stay poor.
Individual
Individually having technology means people can better organise their lives
allowing them to save time and money on doing things they wouldnt be able to
do. Products that people purchase of the internet are usually cheaper too
meaning that the cost of living will be cheaper. Individually using technology can
help with managing funds and purchasing things, a debit card can be used to
purchase items without needing to carry money around with you and your bank
can easily help you save for things or give large amounts of money to other
people.
Social
Better technology means that people in a country can also communicate better
between each other; this means people can lead bigger and better social lives as
they are constantly in communication with each other. If everyone in a country
has phones or access to instant messaging they can stay in touch with each
other wherever they are, not only does this encourage people to be more social
as they are always in communication but it can also be used for other things
such as work and banking in some areas. Technology also doesnt just allow
people to stay in touch though, those who have access to the internet can
become involved with many other social sites such as forums and internet chat
rooms these can lead to people being able to meet new people online, games
that can be played multiplayer through the internet can also allow people to be
more social as they can play games together with friends and also meet new
people online. The internet is also big on technology allowing you and other
people to do a wide variety of stuff from playing games to talking to organising
events with an online calendar. Overall not having access to technology can
more or less make someone a social outcast as everyone will be communicating
all the time through the internet and with phones while people without access to
this technology will not have the level of communication that others will be
receiving. Technology has also made it easier to do other things too, we can find
out the latest news from the internet as soon as it breaks out and we can watch

the latest movies and programs from out laptops, this means that not only does
technology make us more sociable but also allows us to get other entertainment.
Educational
Technology in countries also allows schools and teachers to teach their students
using technology which allows students to learn in a way that suits them,
whether it is through sound, activities or reading. Educational technology can
also help people learn since there are lots of different services designed for
different people with different needs; some websites are specifically designed to
help people with learning disabilities while others can be more advanced for
people who are doing a higher level of work. Technology in education can also be
better for the teachers themselves, teachers can use it for things such as
registers and resources to better teach the students and make their life easier
while students can access their work from home using remote access. Schools
without access to this technology are at a disadvantage as they cannot use the
resources that the internet and computer software can provide for education.
Children not having access to computers at home however are a major problem
in the digital age as it means they cannot complete work requiring access to the
internet or to be done with computers, it also means they cannot use social
networking to talk to their friends and socialise. Even worse from a survey from
the Times Educational Supplement half the teachers surveyed said that children
without the internet at home where at a significant disadvantage and had their
learning hampered. More than a million children in the UK do not have access to
a computer at home and nearly two million do not have access to the internet at
home. (BBC News, 2010) Overall a lack of technology in education will affect
future generations down the line as they wont have internet access either
meaning that the cycle repeats itself.
The extent of the digital divide

This pie chart shows that in 2012 Northern developed areas such as Europe and
Asia had the most internet users compared to third world regions such as Africa
and the Middle East showing than in third world countries they dont have access
to the same level of technology as people in first world countries. (Internet World
Stats, 2013)

.
This graph shows fixed broadband internet subscribers per 100 people for the
world, China and the UK, this shows that in the UK there is a high level of internet
subscriptions while in China the level of internet access is far behind us and
overall the rate of internet connection is terrible for the world as a whole,
however it is slowly increasing showing that the digital divide is closing, however
it could just be that the population is increasing faster in first world countries
rather in third world countries so there are more people in those countries using
the internet.
In 2012 the UK had 81.6 Million mobile phones; this is huge compared to third
world countries like Libya which had 10 Million cell phone users in 2011 showing
that first world countries have better access to technology than third world
countries as they have more money to afford mobile phones along with the
access to these things. (Central Intelligence Agency)
In the UK in 2011 there were 33.2 Million main lines in use compared to Libya
where in 2011 there were only 1 Million main lines this is a huge difference and
further reinforces the point that in third world countries they do not have the
same level of technology as they do in third world countries. (Central Intelligence
Agency)

Global Conclusion
The gap is closing between people who have access to technology and those
who dont have access to it; eventually everyone will have access to the same
level of technology and services however it could be a long time until this comes
to pass because countries access to technology is only growing slowly. However,
the global divide is definitely something which affects every country in the world,
some to a greater extent than others, overall the digital divide is one of the
biggest problems in the world that needs to be solved as it affects both
developed and developing countries and limits their growth along with the
abilities and lives of the people who live there.
I think the real concern is the quality of the technology people can access,
people in rural areas dont receive the same level of technology as those in
urban areas because in urban areas there is a higher level of broadband and
better access to electricity, this extends to the global divide too with many

countries having access to the internet and computers but not many of these
being a high standard.

Local Divide
Introduction
In this section I will talk about the local divide in a country, the reasons this
divide exists, the people trying to narrow the gap and the impact that this has on
the people affected by the local divide.

Factors Contributing to the Divide


Economic
When technology first comes to an area it is often very expensive because the
company that installed the infrastructure must reimburse the costs of installing
technology to that area, this means that for the first year or so that the
technology is available it can often be quite expansive to have and use,
purchasing the technology to use it for can be expensive to, broadband hubs are
often expensive and require a technician to install one. For an area that has only
just received electricity getting it installed in your building can be costly too
especially if your area is quite remote, overall in more rural areas technology is
more costly to access.
A lot of technology also has to be constantly upgraded if you want to have the
latest and greatest tech, phones have to be replaced every couple of years as a
better model comes out that offers more functions and enhanced services while
internet increases all the time and there is always a better deal which offers
more. All these things can mean that people in rural areas that dont have the
same income as people in more urban areas wont be able to get the technology,
it can also be more expensive to buy things in rural areas too leading to less
purchases as they cant afford it.
Geographic
The main problem with urban and rural areas is that rural areas often are remote
with a small population while urban areas are heavily built up with a big
population. This means that installing infrastructure such as electricity, internet
and phone lines in rural areas may not be cost-effective for organisations since
rural areas are remote meaning that installing these things is more expensive
and the population is smaller so they will have fewer customers. Urban areas are
the complete opposite, there is less room to install infrastructure and the
competition between companies is huge to see who can get the most customers
leading to prices decreasing as the quality of internet gets better. The broadband
and mobile networking is however expanding in Britain meaning that people who
didnt have access to quality high speed broadband are now getting access to it
along with mobile networks such as 4G. The problem with people in rural areas
wanting access to bigger and better internet is that since they wont find it in the

country there is more rural to urban migration since the internet and
infrastructure is better there, this is not what the government wants as the
population in big towns and cities is already very high and there isnt much
space remaining.

(Coverage Checker)
This map shows areas of the UK that have different levels of mobile internet,
areas around cities have access to 4G while everywhere else has to make do
with 3G because wither they havent expanded their yet or it is too costly to do
so.
Social
A big factor contributing to the global divide is the social aspect of it, people who
are much older can easily find new technology daunting and may be swayed by
what they hear in the media about the negative effects of using technology, this
can all mean that people who are old will not use new technology which adds to
the local divide in countries, a divide between the younger generations and the
older ones. There is also a divide between the ethnicity of users of technology in
countries, according to a study by the University of Leicester (er134, 2013) those
who identified themselves as white people were much more likely to use the
internet than those of other ethnicity such as Asian or Hispanic, the study says
Class was also related to using online banking services, while youth and
education were the most important factors in increasing the likelihood of using
the Internet to look for work. Ethnicity was only strongly linked to one of the
uses, with those describing themselves as White being more likely to purchase
goods or services online. However even though ethnicity affects peoples
technological use age is a much bigger factor from the same source they say
that Respondents who had stayed in full-time education beyond the age of 16
or had recently participated in learning were more than twice as likely to have
Internet access while those aged over 65 years were five times less likely to
report be able to go online at home. (er134, 2013) This shows that people who

are aged over 65 are very unlikely to have access to either a computer or the
internet while people who have stayed in education and are over 16 are very
likely to have access to the internet.

Narrowing the gap


The UK government is very committed to make Britain a nation with a high level
of technological usage, to solve this the government teams up with a lot of
broadband operators to ensure that much of the country receives high-speed
broadband, they have recently been at talks with several high-value companies
in order to achieve this, (Curtis, 2013) the government has promised that by
2018 they will have wireless and mobile broadband reaching at least 99 per cent
of UK premises. In order to achieve their targets the government set aside
250m in June, along with 530m already set out, to extend super-fast
broadband to 95% of houses by 2017.All this is part of the governments plan to
improve access to technology in the UK and make it one of the countries with the
best levels of internet and computer access.
Some non-governmental organisations within England do help solve the
technological divide; one company called Pass IT On provides computers for the
disabled. Pass IT On takes broken unusable computers and fixes them up, they
then make these computers suitable for the person who wishes to use them, for
instance they might make a computer where the keyboard is able to rest in the
persons lap if they are unable to bend forward and use the keyboard normally,
people who are partially blind can get a bigger screen to allow them to see what
is happening on screen. Pass IT On works with all kinds of disabled people to help
them to meet their needs for a computer to do work on, communicate with
friends and play games. (Pass IT On )
Pass IT On has a sister company too known as Ucandoit a company which
teaches people with disabilities how to use computers effectively, they work with
all kinds of people to teach them how to do basic tasks on computer such as
typing, emails and creating documents. The company then goes on to teach the
people more advanced parts such as how to use free programs like Skype to talk
to friends and also how to make new ones, Ucandoit has affected quite a few
people in the UK and taught them how to effectively make use of computers.
Ucandoit has a number of partners throughout the UK which it helps to train and
which it recommends clients to, many people who have gone through the
Ucandoit course also decide they want to be a helper for Ucandoit, this way they
can continually keep teaching new people while being able to take more people
on. (Ucandoit Organisation)
Another company that provides computers and training to people in the UK is
Computers for the Disabled; CftD has been around for fifteen years and in that
time have helped supply 2300 computers to both individuals and organisations,
they have also helped over 1000 people with advice and help on how to set up
and use these computers. This charity runs completely off donations, people
donate computers and spare parts which there teams then use to fix up

computers and ensure they work correctly they also work with many other
charities such as RSPCA and PDSA. (CftD)

The impact of the digital divide on peoples lives and


opportunities
In this section I will talk about how limited access to technology hampers and
affects peoples lives.
Economic
People without access to technology will definitely suffer economically, they
wont have access to the same software and technology that other people will so
they wont be able to user things such as online credit cards or online banking.
People without access to the internet wont be able to do things such as
purchasing their goods online, this means they wont receive the same savings
that people who purchase goods online will, people without access to technology
also wont be able to manage their funds the same way, having access to more
technology means people in urban areas have access to things such as mobile
credit cards and mobile banking among other things which means they can
better manage their funds and savings. Not having access to technology can also
affect your job opportunities; some jobs require a basic understanding of
computers to be able to perform the job so if you have never used a computer
before then you may find yourself missing out on an opportunity.
Social
People without access to internet and technology will suffer; this is because
people with access to the internet or phones will always be in touch with their
friends, while those without access to phones wont be able to achieve the same
level of communication that others will have, this means that those people
without access to communication will be missing out. People without social
networking will also miss out on any events that happen as they wont be able to
receive invitations to events that are made online. Not having access to social
networking can actually lead to social exclusion because people will not be in on
all the latest events that are happening now will they be able to talk to their
friends and find out the latest piece of news.
Educational
Having access to technology allows people to get a better education than those
without, this is because those who can access the internet have access to a large
database of information on every subject, this means that people with access to
technology will constantly be learning new things about the subjects they are
interested in. Having access to technology also helps people in school, having
access to the internet means that people can use the internet for revision,
researching or for doing work, schooling would be much harder without access to
the internet because you wouldnt have a resource that is as expansive or as
descriptive. Technology has also become a staple in education, many schools
teach ICT classes now and use ICT to help teach their lessons, not only this but
teachers often set homework that requires going on the internet so having
access to technology and the internet is vital for education and schooling. Many

students are also expected to have access to the internet and a computer at
home, this shows that those without these things are severely disadvantages
and is causing a divide between the students with access to the internet and
those without, this further causes a divide between the ability of the students,
those without access will perform worse in their work than those who have it.
(How Computer and Internet Access at Home Can Improve Grades, 2012)

The extent of the digital divide locally


There are:

82.7 million mobile subscriptions in the UK in 2013 (Stats and Facts)

This graph of mobile


subscriptions in the UK per 100 people shows that the number of mobile
subscriptions has been steadily increasing during the past 10 years which
means that the gap has been steadily closing in the UK however it has
slowed down during the past few years.
49% of adults in the UK used their phones for internet in 2013; this is up
from 39% just one year ago. (Stats and Facts)
23 million fixed broadband lines (UK Broadband Factsheet)
33.1 million fixed landlines (Facts)

This picture shows that between November in 2008 and May in 2013 the
average broadband speeds in the UK increased, the overall speeds
increased along with 30 Megabytes per second increasing, however lower
speeds decreased as more internet suppliers decided to upgrade to a
higher level of quality.

Local Conclusion
The digital divide is narrowing in Britain, urban places are still far better in terms
of infrastructure and technology but rural places have slowly being receiving
better infrastructure and access to technology, the quality of the access in the

UK is actually fairly good, we have high-speed broadband which is available to


many people in the UK and most people have access to broadband, those people
who dont have access to broadband can also receive internet through their
phones instead.

Overall Conclusion
The digital divide is slowly getting smaller, the divide is however decreasing
more rapidly locally than it is globally and it will be a long time before the divide
has completely closed. The global divide hasnt moved much, less developed
countries still dont have access to the same level of technology as more
developed countries do with more developed countries having the infrastructure
and resources to effectively use technology, however locally the digital divide
has changed quite a bit, rural areas in the UK are getting access to the levels of
technology that had originally only been available to urban areas and the divide
has gotten a lot smaller, now it is only the levels of technology that needs to be
changed as both urban and rural have access to the same kind of technology.
The main concern now is that the global divide is much worse than the local
divide so that is what we should ideally be focusing on next or focusing on
making the technology we have access to a moment better by using high speed
broadband and 4G services.

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