Technology After 25 years of trying to close the digital divide, challenges remain
REPSOL is a global multi-energy provider and digital transformation trailblazer
Repsol is a global multi-energy provider that is aggressively driving its evolution toward a low-emissions energy model and establishing itself as a digital business transformation trailblazer. Digital Transformation: A CXO's Guide
The notion of a "digital divide" first came about more than 25 years ago — a time when communication demands first began moving from landlines to the internet. This shift, according to a newby Deloitte, resulted in disparities between rural and urban demographics and low- and high-income earners. And while many steps have been made over the past couple of decades to close the gap—just in the past 10 years, the U.S. government spent more than $100 billion on broadband infrastructure—millions of individuals are still burdened by unaffordable or inadequate internet connectivity.
According to the report, "Broadband for All: Charting a Path to Economic Growth," one main factor for the continuing disparity is that various government programs that were established to increase the number of individuals with access to the Federal Communications Commission's definition of broadband, they were only able to do so by less than 1% (or 1.6 million people) between 2014 and 2019. This low figure is a consequence, in part, of the rapidly changing definition of broadband and individuals not having the means to keep up with the standard.
Biden's digital guru is starting an ad firm of her own
Megan Clasen is joining forces with Patrick McHugh, the former executive director of Priorities USA, to launch the new consulting firm.Megan Clasen, who ran a $250 million digital ad program for Biden, and Patrick McHugh, who led Democrats’ largest super PAC over the last two campaign cycles, are launching the digital ad firm Gambit Strategies, they tell POLITICO.
The report says in 2014, 16 million Americans (or 5% of the US population) did not have broadband services that met the 4 Mbps downlink benchmark standard then listed by the FCC. And in 2019, more than 14 million Americans did not have access to broadband that fulfilled the new FCC speed threshold (25 Mbps downlink).
"Broadband for All" attempts to show that closing the digital divide would not only benefit those with no or poor broadband access, but it would also be a desirable achievement for the overall health of the economy.
For the study, Deloitte says it used various models from publicly available information to assess the correlation between broadband availability and economic prosperity. Deloitte says its report substantiates three hypotheses.
The digital divide existed long before COVID-19 — let's make sure it doesn't live on after
Can you imagine what the past year would have been like without broadband internet?Telework would be nearly impossible, so if your office closed, you would likely be out of a job. Finding new employment would be a challenge without the help of sites like LinkedIn or Monster.com, and you wouldn't even be able to knock on doors with your resume amid widespread closures of public spaces. If your child's school has closed, they would have to sit out on virtual classes while their peers log onto Zoom, and might instead have to get lessons and homework from physical drop boxes - if at all.
First, that broadband expansion is long overdue. According to its analysis, if the U.S. had expanded broadband access by just 10% in 2016, that would have led to more than 806,000 additional jobs in 2019 (in other words, an annual creation of around 269,000 positions).
Second, Deloitte asserts that if, in 2016, the U.S. added just 10 Mbps to average internet download speeds, by 2019 this would have led to roughly 139,000 additional jobs in the country (however, Deloitte says its "analysis also indicates diminishing returns with the rate of job growth slowing as speeds continue to increase").
And finally, the report states if the U.S. had taken the initiative to increase broadband access by a mere 10% in 2015, the result would have been more than 875,000 new jobs— as well as around $186 billion in extra-economic production.
"When it comes to the public or private broadband investments to close the digital divide, the economic benefits are clear," Jack Fritz, principal at Deloitte, said in a press release. But such an endeavor, he added, "will require stakeholders to navigate potentially competing priorities across emerging technologies that can meet needs in the near-term, the long-term desires for faster speeds, and financial support for devices and in-home equipment."
President Biden taps Kamala Harris to lead effort to close digital divide .
The Vice President will lead Biden's effort to connect every American to broadband, signaling the issue as a major priority for the White House.President Biden made the announcement Wednesday evening during his first address to a joint session of Congress that the Vice President would lead his effort to expand the availability of broadband throughout the country. Biden's plan includes making broadband more affordable to millions of low-income Americans.