Why NET Connect? To Close the Digital Divide

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What is the Digital Divide? Wikipedia (the world’s free online encyclopedia at www.wikipedia.org) says this term refers to the gap between those people who have effective access to digital and information technology, and those who do not have it. It addresses the imbalances in resources/infrastructure and skills as well as the inequalities for individuals, businesses, and institutions to derive benefit from the opportunities for betterment which exist with effective high speed Internet (or broadband).

In Mendocino County, about 90% of the people who responded to the Redwood Coast Connect survey own computers but only 21% have high speed connection to the Internet. Some choose not to have it but most simply cannot get it. The RCC data also confirms that supply of high speed connection here is low while demand is high.

With low speed dialup, it is slow to impossible to access many websites today with all the movies, music, and action. It can be frustrating to do business online from a residence or even get pictures from family and friends.

Governor Schwarzenegger said recently, “We live in an age where technology drives everything we do, and to remain competitive and connected in the future, we must expand broadband access today.” He commissioned the California Broadband Task Force in 2006 to identify and remove barriers to universal broadband access. The Redwood Coast Connect project is an outgrowth of that mandate. The Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance is a local partner with RCC to get it here sooner than later.

The Digital Divide can be seen more clearly by looking at connection speeds. Some areas in and around Mendocino and Fort Bragg have broadband through special phone lines (DSL) and cable hookups. Some individual residences have satellite. The majority of the residences are on dialup which is like being on a bicycle path next to the Internet Highway. These statistics are from a paper defining the types of connectivity which can be viewed at https://mendocinobroadband.wordpress.com.

To Download

Using Cable

Using DSL

Using Satellite

Using Dialup

200KB picture

0.5 seconds

1.0 seconds

3.2 seconds

56 seconds

3MB MP3 song

8 seconds

15.6 seconds

48 seconds

13.8 minutes

4.7GB movie

3.5 hours

6.8 hours

21 hours

15+ days

This Why NET Connect? series will explore the many ways broadband can positively affect personal and work lives featuring the potential effect on small and home-based business next time. How would it help you?

Comments are welcome at sfreriks@mcn.org.

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