The “digital divide” is the inequality between those who can reliably connect to the Internet and computers and those who cannot. At one Newark public high school, accessible Wi-Fi can be more valuable than a bus ride home.
In Newark, a city with one of the highest poverty rates
in the U.S., many Newark Leadership Academy students can’t afford home Internet access. At the school, like all public schools in the city, Wi-Fi isn’t available to teachers or students. In fact, only 39 percent of public schools have wireless network access for the whole school. Instead, teens hungry for an online connection seek alternatives in order to fill out job and college applications, complete homework assignments and stay connected to the outside world.
Many of students would prefer a two-mile walk home over a missed Wi-Fi opportunity.
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, only 54 percent of households with incomes of less than $30,000 have a high-speed broadband connection at home. As a result, in order to complete digital assignments, many students are forced to find sources of free Internet access outside of school. While the library is often an option, hours can be limited, particularly in the evening. Many of these students are increasingly turning to free WiFi at places like McDonald’s to complete their homework.
Click to view video of “Moving Toward a Gigabit State.”
A collaboration of Connecticut municipalities has solicited proposals from potential Internet service provider partners to create gigabit speed fiber networks across Connecticut: http://www.ct.gov/broadband/site/default.asp
The Music Revolution will be looking to address these issues nationally including addressing the future of mobile phones systems (see 52 second video below).
The “Uberization” of mobile phone networks, routing wireless calls and data across your home internet connection and giving you a cut of the revenue from a crowdsourced phone network: http://www.wired.com/2015/03/perlman/
In addition, we will be encouraging municipalities to join Next Century Cities
. It is free for municipalities to join.
Across the country, innovative municipalities are already recognizing the importance of leveraging gigabit level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities. Next Century Cities is committed to celebrating these successes, demonstrating their value, and helping other cities to realize the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible broadband: http://nextcenturycities.org/.
Additional background information:
Digital Steward Katherine Ortiz in installation mode | Photo courtesy of Red Hook WiFi
One organization helping to move us toward a Gigabit America is the Red Hook Initiative
with Red Hook WiFi
and the Digital Stewards program
. Red Hook WiFi
is a community-led effort to close the digital divide, generate economic opportunity, facilitate access to essential services and improve quality of life in Red Hook, Brooklyn via the deployment of a wireless Internet network. The Digital Stewards
are young adults from Red Hook ages 19-24, employed by the Red Hook Initiative to install, maintain and promote the WiFi network and use technology to bring about community development. The Stewards are trained in wireless network installation, software and hardware troubleshooting, and community organizing using a curriculum created by the Open Technology Institute
and Allied Media Projects
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said that having sufficient unlicensed spectrum (e.g. Wifi) will be key to American innovation and global competitiveness.
There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. ~ Lawrence Lessig: rootstrikers.org
There is an important battle being raged in Washington right now over something called quote spectrum. A battle that is extraordinary important to the future of the Internet and one in which the extremists are now prevailing. This is a battle of whether we will sell all spectrum such that access to spectrum is controlled by those who own the property right. If the extremist win then this will destroy the potential for cheap ubiquitous uncontrolled access to the Internet that is increasing spreading throughout the country right now. We need to do something to stop this shift before the shift becomes permanent.
One important reason for the problem of broadband access is the cost of high-speed Internet service is simply too high. In American cities like New York, you can buy a 500 Mbps connection that’s 58 times faster than the U.S. average. Here’s the catch: It’ll cost you $300 a month, according to the New America Foundation’s Cost of Connectivity report
. In Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, however, you can get twice the speed, a 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) connection, for under $40 a month. In New York and Los Angeles for under $40, Time Warner Cable offers a 15 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload connection.
In the United States broadband is both more expensive and slower at the same time. And this is mostly due to government policy as Susan Crawford
writes in Captive Audience:
Instead of ensuring that everyone in America can compete in a global economy, instead of narrowing the divide between rich and poor, instead of supporting competitive free markets for American inventions that use information—instead, that is, of ensuring that America will lead the world in the information age—U.S. politicians have chosen to keep Comcast and its fellow giants happy.
Susan Crawford with Bill Moyers (BillMoyers.com)
It is worth mentioning that all of the top-performing American cities in the study are those that are disrupting the business for incumbent ISPs, such as Verizon, Time Warner Cable and AT&T. Remember Verizon’s $300 for 500 Mbps plan? In Kansas City, Google Fiber offers 1000 Mbps for $70 a month. Chattanooga, Tennesse also offers 1000 Mbps for $70 a month.
Instead of being extremely expensive, the Internet could eventually be as ubiquitous as the air we breathe if the Federal Communications Commission moves forward with a plan to allow free access to an unused part of the broadcast spectrum. The WiFi networks that would flourish on that bandwidth could powerfully transform our lives and spur massive innovation in the economy – if the idea can get past the multi-billion dollar interests standing in its way.
According to a report
released by Raul Katz, Ph.D., who is Director of Strategy Research at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information
, the economic value of unlicensed wireless spectrum in the U.S. could exceed $140 billion. Also WifiForward
, a coalition that includes Google and Microsoft and that is calling for policymakers to open up more unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi and other, released an economic study
showing unlicensed spectrum generated $222 billion in value to the U.S. economy in 2013 and contributed $6.7 billion to U.S. gross domestic product.
Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski spearheaded the public WiFi effort on the grounds that it could lead to whole new industries of products and services, but the idea would also serve the agency’s mission to reduce the digital divide by expanding the availability of high-speed Internet access and reducing its cost.
A survey of US-based mobile customers in Q4 2013 pegged the average monthly Verizon bill at $148, higher than Sprint ($144), AT&T ($141), and T-Mobile ($120).
Freeing up unlicensed spectrum will shrink your mobile phone bill.
Republic Wireless offers a $5-a-month plan for unlimited talk, text, and data. This plan is dependent on unlicensed spectrum.
Freeing up unlicensed spectrum and using software such as Kodi™ will help you eliminate your cable bill. Kodi™ (formerly known as XBMC™) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media center for playing videos, music, pictures, games, and more. Kodi runs on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android:
New technology is just around the corner to make this happen.
These hardware experiments, and the measurement campaigns in Austin and New York City, have convinced us that millimeter-wave cellular communication will be not just feasible but revolutionary.