Digital divide! The phrase conjures up a vision of some crevasse across which the poor and downtrodden peer longingly at some unachievable wonderland defined by Internet access. Digital divide has become a rallying cry to justify various governmental programs; ostensibly designed to address this problem of Internet access.
But, what if the problem is non-existent or, at the very least, less dire than imagined? Stratecast believes that the concerns about Internet access are very much overblown, and that the United States, in particular, is well on the way to virtually % Internet access. The reason this is almost certainly true is that broadband access is no longer the exclusive domain of the desktop computer. With smartphones representing an increasingly popular cellular option, and with smartphones available with prepaid access plans, in virtually any grocery store, practically anyone who wants a way to access the Internet can do so.
4G technology has largely been responsible for enabling this amazing increase in Internet access. While 3G technology enabled smartphones, only succeeding technologies like 4G, 4G+, and soon 5G, define mobility in terms of data.
And with carriers increasingly giving away voice connectivity with smartphone subscription packages, the market has recognized that most people now think in terms of data functionality rather than voice connectivity.
One might think that defining broadband access in terms of a smartphone in some way settles for a less capable Internet connection. Yet, this is not the case: in many respects a mobile device is far more capable than any fixed data access device. Why? The reason is applications. Data intensive applications, informed by smartphone GPS information, confer on a mobile device the ability to deliver a position-enabled experience that a desktop machine cannot.
For many people, the smartphone has become the center for all communications connectivity; providing access to an Internet browser, email, text messaging, conventional telephone, and telepresence. Most importantly, applications which tie together all of these communication modalities now transcend the notion of telecommunication services as simple connectivity.
Nevertheless, while 4G provides digital access, and applications define a new blended communication-content environment, there are still barriers to general adoption Chief among these is a regulatory structure that imagines the Internet as a fiber-defined domain.