A report released by UN Broadband Commission revealed recently that 300 million people got connected to internet last year. But what is disappointing is the news that more than 50% of the world’s population still does not have access to internet. Digital divide is worse in the case of women with 25 fewer women than men around the world being connected to internet. This report says that the efforts to make people of the world connected are not achieving targets. In fact, the growth in number of people gaining access to internet is slowing down.
In rich countries of the world, internet access levels are reaching saturation with nearly 90% of the population being connected. In a sharp contrast, nearly 90% of the population in 48 poorest nations of the world does not have access to internet. What is depressing to note is the fact that there is a downward trend in the growth rate of population gaining access to internet. This growth rate this year was 8.1% while it was8.6% last year. This growth rate was in double digits till 2012.
Clair Jones, who is a technology expert, says that internet is still perceived as privilege in many countries rather than being a necessity. It is not included as a human right in most of the countries of the world. Of course this situation is because of poor infrastructure but even if infrastructure is made available, high cost of internet connection would still keep it beyond the reach of poor people. It is only when governments across the world decide to treat internet access as a basic human right and provide it as a public utility that this digital divide can end. Access to internet should either be made totally free of cost or it should be made very cheap.
Today access to internet is essential for any economy to make speedy progress. In fact, it is this connectivity that decides whether an economy has that competitive edge or not. One way to increase connectivity is to push broadband through satellites. This will make sure that people in remote areas have access to broadband. But unless prices of broadband come down heavily, it is foolish to assume that people in third world countries would pay for internet connectivity when they do not have money to buy food.