The Great Digital Divide
26 · JUN ·2014
Years ago politicians were concerned with the rich/poor divide in their countries as well as globally, however as technology advanced they became more concerned with what has now been termed the ‘digital divide’. The digital divide is nothing new – in fact scholars have been writing about it ever since the Internet became accessible to a large proportion of the global population. However, the issue of the digital divide is becoming even greater, which is why Fluidata has been focussed on creating solutions. Here, we explain the issue in greater detail:
What is the ‘Digital Divide’?
Technically, there are two types of digital divides: the global digital divide and digital divides within countries. Globally, the digital divide is having a negative effect on developing countries which do not have the capabilities to install advanced technology such as phone lines and mobile phone masts. In turn, this is creating an educational divide, as children in developing countries are failing to learn the same technological skills as those in other countries, meaning that they are stuck in a vicious cycle of being unable to change their lifestyles or learn new skills. Digital divides also exists in countries which are considered ‘developed’ such as America where a large percentage of people live in poverty and therefore cannot afford to purchase electronic devices or broadband.
The Digital Divide in the UK
You may not think it, but the UK also suffers from a digital divide as many rural areas do not have the same access to the Internet as towns and cities. Even though the digital divide is not as bad here as in other countries, there are still areas of the UK where individuals struggle to connect to the Internet or gain suitable mobile phone coverage. While this may not sound too detrimental on a personal level, on an economic level it means that these areas are being avoided by businesses and younger generations are moving away in order to find jobs. Businesses that are already established in such areas are also falling behind their competitors as they struggle with a lack of technology and unreliable network connections. If left unchecked, this could lead to certain regions in the UK deteriorating considerably due to a lack of economic activity.
Fluidata on Reducing the Digital Divide
Earlier this year Fluidata received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation thanks to our Service Exchange Platform which provides those in poorly served areas access to high-speed Internet connectivity. Over the years Fluidata has provided numerous businesses innovative solutions to improve their connectivity, however with the digital divide growing we decided it was also important to come up with solutions that could be used by everyone with all requirements and budgets.. The Fluidata Service Exchange Platform works by connecting ISPs to a range of networks across the country including fibre, satellite and wireless technologies. After receiving the award, Fluidata’s Managing Director, Piers Daniell, said: “As an advocate of smaller network operators who are doing incredible things, we have been able to help improve returns and generate business cases to support such ventures.”
The Future of the Digital Divide
Even though we are extremely proud to be given the Queen’s Award for reducing the digital divide, it would be unfair to say that Fluidata is the only business out there working on the issue. As previously mentioned, politicians around the world have been discussing how to solve the digital divide for a while now and have been seeking advice from businesses as well as experts in the field. However, access to the Internet is just one part of overcoming the digital divide, as there are some people who already have the ability to connect to the Internet yet don’t have the skills to fully utilise it. Education is therefore just as important as technological developments when it comes to the digital divide, something politicians need to consider while trying to ameliorate the issue.