September 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm #1640Tracey AllenParticipant
The NBN will close the digital divide.
I do not believe that the National Broadband Network (NBN) will close the digital divide. My point of view is that:
- The NBN’s goal is to only provide access for all Australian’s.
- The definition of digital divide has changed to include more than just access.
- Digital inclusion is needed to “close the digital divide”.
According to the NBN website “The nbn™ is essential for Australia’s digital evolution and is designed to provide access to a minimum level of broadband services across the nation. It presents opportunity in education, business, entertainment, health care and sociability giving everyone the potential to be more productive, more creative, more efficient and more connected for decades to come.” The NBN’s goal therefore is to provide access to a minimum level of internet services for the whole nation. This “minimum level” is worrying as it is common knowledge that when purchasing Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) and devices, the most up-to-date and powerful is the best, as the technology probably won’t last any more than approximately 3yrs. For example my iPad 1 purchased in December 2010 can no longer provide access to many apps. They have been updated for the more current iPads, leaving me with a device that is slowly becoming outdated. The estimated 2020 deadline for all Australians having access is also concerning, especially given the continued rapid change in technology, which may make the current broadband obsolete by the time it is finished.
The “digital divide” is becoming increasingly difficult to define as initially it was referred to as the technology have’s and the have not’s. The more current definition also includes the societal inequalities associated with the changes in technology and the digital literacy of the users and non-users. Digital literacy “encompasses the skills and abilities necessary for access once the technology is available, including a necessary understanding of the language and component hardware and software required to successfully navigate the technology.” The NBN doesn’t however make mention to the digital literacy of the users and non-users. Not only has the definition been changing but also the terminology used in relation to this issue has changed with the introduction of the term digital inclusion.
The digital divide has led to the increase in digital exclusion of many users and non-users. This has resulted in the formation of digital inclusion policies to counteract the effect of the digital divide. Therefore digital inclusion is defined as the “policy developed to close the digital divide and promote digital literacy. It marries high-speed Internet (as dial-up access is no longer sufficient) access and digital literacy in ways that reach various audiences.” The policy in Australia should ensure that the whole community understands the benefits of ICT. They should also be able to afford access to the Internet and capable devices. All members of the community should be able to access digital technology despite their age, background, education, location or ethnicity.
The NBN is only part of the solution for closing the digital divide. It will eventually provide limited access to a broadband connection for all Australian’s. Digital literacy needs to be considered in conjunction with access in order to fully “close the digital divide”. The way to do this is through digital inclusion. An Australian company that is leading the way in digital inclusion is Infoxchange. Their motto is ensuring no one is left behind in the digital age.
- This topic was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by Tracey Allen. Reason: Adding Tags
September 6, 2015 at 4:08 pm #1647Robynne Kilborne BlakeParticipant
Agreed, Tracey. The digital divide is so much more than access to technology – age, gender, ability/disability, affordability and much more need to be considered before we can think about bridging the divide. But I think that, as far as government is concerned, they do have a responsibility to ensure a certain level of technology infrastructure is available to all citizens. Not that the NBN will necessarily do that – if you live in the bush or rural areas you are still going to be less likely to have fast internet access. Check out the inforgraphic in my twitter chat reflection for this week. Nevertheless it seems to me to be an important initiative, given the way in which technology is pervading so many aspects of our lives.
September 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm #1702Jennifer CottonParticipant
Agreed. Just because the NBN is there doesn’t mean people are going to use it. My grandmothers still don’t use ATMs and simply don’t want to know. The solution to the problem isn’t as easy as saying ‘Here is a computer connected to the internet. Use it.’
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