- Why the Internet is Necessary during the Covid Pandemic
- Global Pandemic & Digital Divide
- Internet Unavailability in Poorer Regions
- Digital Deprivation in Rich Countries
- Peak Traffic Leading to Network Congestions
- Internet Value Chain
- Strict Lockdowns & Work from Home
- Bottom Line
Long gone are days when the internet was considered a luxury. Today, it has become one of the most essential parts of our lives. However, there are still many people who cannot afford this lifeline and some of those who do have access to internet services, the available options are neither reliable nor adequate.
Moreover, privacy violations, online abuse, government surveillance, and related issues have further added to the challenges, keeping a lot of people offline. Not to mention that at the same time, we are also living in a world where governments of multiple countries including Sudan, Congo, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe are restricting internet access or shutting it down completely in the face of continuous criticism from residents or during elections.
Those lucky enough to access worthwhile connectivity options, like Mediacom high speed internet, get a key connection with information that assists them in ensuring their family’s health and safety during the global pandemic.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has completely transformed our ways of living with its new social distancing measures. All around the world, people have been asked to avoid physical contact and spend maximum time inside their homes. From weddings and funerals to working from home and online learning, the internet connects all of us with our loved ones in these tough times of physical isolation.
While the global health crisis confined most of us inside our homes, the world also witnessed some highly supportive and considerate communities who joined hands to help their fellow citizens, going through all the struggles while maintaining two meters of physical distance.
Throughout this time, the internet has been the most crucial uniting power making school, work, social activities, and coordination possible. It has always been the best platform for collaboration and innovation at a distance. Now, it is also being used for practicing compassion from a distance.
All these benefits sound great because you have internet access at your fingertips. You are the fortunate ones. A very large number of people still wish to turn to the internet in routine or when the need arises. There is an obvious digital divide that deprives nearly half the world when it needs internet access the most.
In developing and underdeveloped regions, digital inequality holds back billions of people from these essential connections. The global health crisis has starkly uncovered the appalling digital divide that exists around the globe.
If we talk numbers, then only 54% of the total world’s population has a reliable internet connection. But the residents of remote and rural areas are still unlikely to be online. Among them, the online ones either connect to the internet through their school, workplace, cafes, libraries, or any other public places. Once these places get shut, people do not have any other way to access the web. The closure of public places due to covid-19 took away even this facility from these people.
Across Africa, the condition is somewhat similar – only 1 out of every 4 people has access to the internet and the perks that come with it. In developing countries, women mostly do not have online access at all and only 21% of men are likely to access the web. The number goes up to 52% in the least developed states of the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic also drew attention to the shocking reality about rich countries, which are adversely affected by digital deprivation as well. In the United Kingdom, nearly 60,000 children do not have access to the web at their homes, while approximately 70,000 do not even own desktop, tablet, or laptop. This hinders many students from getting an education online during school closure.
Similarly, around 12 million children in the United States are deprived of internet connectivity in their homes. As a result, people park their cars outside cafes and schools, eager to access good connections to meet their work and school needs. These differences are due to familiar lines of race, wealth, and urban and rural divide.
In one of the world’s most loved cities, New York, approximately one-third of total households have no broadband subscription at their homes. Research from Pew shows four out of every ten low-income households lack broadband access.
Working from home is not a decision everyone can make. Even people like service sector employees and administrators, who could easily perform their job remotely might not be able to do so. The current situation does not even qualify them to avail of this option.
As number of people accessing the web at the same time increases, it affect connectivity of everyone. Many businesses are operating in areas that lack the infrastructure to move to online trading. Internet deprivation combined with a novel coronavirus outbreak has left people all around the world confused and disturbed.
After the lockdown news made it to the headlines, people rushed to get a subscription to high-speed internet suitable for their home and work needs. As a result of oversubscription, residential broadband providers went through network congestion. Another reason behind lags was the built-in asymmetrical potential of xDSL technology.
Most of the xDSL networks provide services using the telephone infrastructure that was initially developed for low-speed analogue telephone service. The issue arises because most xDSL services have adequate download speeds but upload speeds are often not sufficient. As a result, people are unable to fulfil their home and work needs as they mostly require high upload speeds.
As strict restrictions against mobility are imposed to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading like wildfire, there has been a huge transition to online communication in both offices and educational institutions. Approximately, 1.3 billion people living in OECD countries are studying and working from home.
Internet Value Chain
Throughout the internet value chain, mobile and fixed broadband cloud, operators, and content providers as well as the points where all internet networks link with one another to trade traffic, known as Internet exchange points (IXPs), are getting as high as 60% additional Internet traffic than what they were experiencing before the global health crisis. In such unique circumstances, the potential and flexibility of internet networks have gotten even more crucial.
Just how people run movements for the right to education and clean water, it is high time we begin one for internet availability all across the globe. There are several other types of internet shortfalls, which we need to stay alert about like online discrimination, gender-based violence, data stealing, misinformation, privacy violation, and many more. All these problems are real, but the first priority should be to make the internet affordable and accessible to all.
We do not see this global pandemic ending anytime soon. So, no matter how expensive this demand might be, our time to fight for this basic and essential need is right now!