Is The Digital Divide Widening

Jim, Steve, and Dave bring another three topics of discussion the table. This week we discuss the digital divide. Is it widening, narrowing, or staying static? We preview a bit of CES 2012 and how you can help with the show. We also touch on the changing landscape of news and sports media, a classic new media verse traditional media.

1. The Digital Divide is it getting wider
2. Sports & News Media: Less viewing, same information, different medium
3. CES 2012 & Apple looses iPad trademark in China

The Digital Divide – the debate always seems to surface every 3 to 4 months on Waves of Tech. This week, we analyze an article titled “The New Digital Divide” from the New York Times. So many variables factor into whether the digital divide continues to grow, shrink, or stabilize. The essential factors include access, cost, income level, and usage. In an age where so much control is in the hands of industries, we have to consider the smart-phone industry, cable company monopolies, and the federal government. Some of Jim’s direct thoughts are included at the end of the show notes.

I (Dave) have always been a major fan of sports. Be it baseball, soccer, football, professional, or amateur, you could also count on me checking out the live games and spending hours in front of the TV. Well with introduction of social media, new media content delivery, and the changing platforms for gathering sports, I recently noticed myself consuming less and less live broadcasts and simply relying on other means of gathering information about sports. I open the discussion up to Steve and Jim to see if they have noticed a similar transition in their own lives, be it sports or not. Check out the discussion.

CES 2012 is just over a month away. Thousands of vendors, truck loads of people, and nothing but consumer goodies to scope out over an entire week!! As Steve and Dave gear up for the trip with TPN.TV, we are asking for a little bit of help on sending us out to Las Vegas. We will be provided some ground breaking interviews with floor vendors and product creators. Check out the discussion and help out if you can. Thanks!

Support CES 2012 Support Staff $25, $50, $100, Your Choice

Finally, Apple looses the iPad trademark in China. This court battle has been going on for nearly 4 years and it looks like Apple is going to have to pay top dollar to secure that name in the Chinese market. Proview Technology bought the trademark rights to “iPad” in 2000 in its home county of China. What do you think Apple will do? Pay for the naming rights? Rename the iPad for distribution in China?

The New Digital Divide- This article caught MY attention as it purportedly was addressing my students situations. I know that I try to stay very aware that not everyone has Internet access. And so, I started into the article.

“Just over 200 million Americans have high-speed, wired Internet access at home, and almost two-thirds of them get it through their local cable company. The connections are truly high-speed…they can reach up to 105 megabits per second, fast enough to download a music album in three seconds.”

Really? It looks like a mashing of thoughts to me that paints an inaccurate picture. According to this paragraph, you would assume that ⅔ of Americans with wired Internet are sailing at those high speeds. I get @ 20 Mbps and I’m pushing it to get that!

“US Smartphones:  in just over four years the number has jumped from about 10 percent to about 35 percent; among Hispanics and African-Americans, it’s roughly 44 percent. Most of the time, smartphone owners also have wired access at home: the Pew Internet and American Life Project recently reported that 59 percent of American adults with incomes above $75,000 had a smartphone, and a 2010 study by the Federal Communications Commission found that more than 90 percent of people at that income level had wired high-speed Internet access at home.”

As carriers, like Verizon, move towards not even offering feature phones, THIS to me becomes the bigger problem. We are forcing people that don’t REALLY need the SmartPhone features into having to buy them. In discussing the data caps of the carriers, the article states

For example, well before finishing the download of a single two-hour, high-definition movie from iTunes over a 4G wireless network, a typical subscriber would hit his or her monthly cap and start incurring $10 per gigabyte in overage charges. If you think this is a frivolous concern, for “movie” insert an equally large data stream, like “business meeting.”

The majority of jobs are not going to be conducting “business meetings either. So, again, forcing lower income families into something that they don’t really need. But they DO need a phone.

“According to numbers released last month by the Department of Commerce, a mere 4 out of every 10 households with annual household incomes below $25,000 in 2010 reported having wired Internet access at home, compared with the vast majority — 93 percent — of households with incomes exceeding $100,000.

Well, as a teacher, I fall in the middle of those two figures, so mathematically, I guess that would put me in with about 75% of the population. That does not seem like a statistically bad place to be. Of my 26 students, 23 of them have Internet access. I work in a school with over 60% of students on free or reduced lunch, so those figures don’t seem to play out for me.

So where is this all going? The article moves from this point into discussing the problem with way that high speed Internet access is regulated in the US, as opposed to other countries around the world. It addresses the need for alternative like FiOS at reasonable rates. I think this is something that we can ALL agree on. And then it concludes

“Thirty years from now, African-Americans and Latinos, who are at the greatest risk of being left behind in the Internet revolution, will be more than half of our work force. If we want to be competitive in the global economy, we need to make sure every American has truly high-speed wired access to the Internet for a reasonable cost.”

And so, as a persuasive writing, the article does everything right. It throws in an amazing amount of facts (no always connected) and it plays the racial card to tug at your moral responsibility. But the bottom line is this: Internet access has moved into a place where it is becoming more and more of a necessity, whether high speed or not. Email, the most basic of modern communication, doesn’t require the high speed, but you’ve got to have access. With phones coming around like the Republic Wireless, that can pass off data usage to wifi rather than the phone service, and offer customers access for $20/month, I see the digital divide narrowing, not widening.



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