Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

Weekly Wrap-Up, March 27, 2015

Salt Lake City, UT skyline. (Photo provided by Garrett)Salt Lake City, UT skyline. (Photo provided by Garrett)

A few big announcements came out of Facebook’s F8 conference. The company announced that it will be delving into the Internet of Things by rolling out a new software development kit. It’s also been working on Aquila, a drone with a wingspan close to that of a Boeing 767 (but that weights less than a car) that Facebook hopes will be able to provide Internet around the world.

According to an infographic from TalentLMS, the global mobile-learning market will be worth $37.8 billion by 2020. Learn more about the edtech market in the infographic, featured in EdTech.

The best way to fix the digital divide might actually be offline, explains Matt Petronizio in Mashable. The WiderNet, a project based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is working on developing a microchip that would essentially allow devices to deliver an offline copy of the Internet.

Some interesting surrounding the state of broadband in the United States came out of the White House this week. President Obama announced that 98 percent of Americans are connected to high-speed wireless Internet. (It should be noted that this goal is defined by providing 4G mobile broadband.) President Obama also signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing a Broadband Opportunity Council co-chaired by the secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture. (For an overview of the White House’s next steps in making broadband more affordable and accessible, see this fact sheet.)

This week, the National Telecommunications & Informational Administration (NTIA) released updated broadband map data (the data is recent as of June 30, 2014).

In the Atlantic, Terrence F. Ross explores the contradiction between nearly all schools being connected to the Internet in some way and the fact that all children by no means have equal access to technology across America.

Technology and digital literacy are becoming increasingly integral to jobs across many sectors. Tess Posner writes about the importance of future-proofing our workforce today.

Mercy Corp’s Anne Mei Chang explains the importance of technology globally and the impact it can have in providing a means to be heard, if people have access to it.

Let the suing begin. We all knew FCC rulings last month would anger many, and lawsuits are now being filed. Tennessee is suing the FCC over its ruling on municipal broadband. The FCC ruling was in response to a petition from the Electric Power Board (EPB) in Chattannoga, TN. The company had argued that state regulations were prohibitive and the ruling will allow EPB to expand its service. The state of Tennessee, however, believes that the FCC has interfered where it has no authority, and wants the ruling overturned.

Additionally, telecom companies have filed lawsuits against the FCC charging that the net neutrality ruling violate the Constitution, telecommunications law, and procedural requirements.

Even those who have not sued are not entirely happy. While many Democrats are happy with the FCC’s net neutrality ruling, Representative Butterfield (D–NC), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, believes that Congress should get involved, reports Mario Trujillo on the Hill. Butterfield has, in the past, argued against regulating broadband like a utility, and now thinks Congress ought to develop broadband policy. Rosa Mendoza of the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership argues that the current policy, net neutrality included, is moving in the wrong direction. “With this recent FCC vote,” she writes, “we are on a path to bureaucratic delays, legal uncertainty, chilled investment, and overall mediocrity.”

The gigabit age is upon us, asserts Will Barkis in TechCrunch. “The shift to ultra-fast broadband is quickly gaining momentum,” Barkis writes, “thanks to both increased competition and community leadership.”

And finally, Google Fiber has announced that it will be expanding even further, now to Salt Lake City, UT. What does all this expansion mean for the Internet market? “Hopefully,” Christian de Looper writes in Tech Times, “Google will put an end to this monopoly.”


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