Over 3M U.S. students are at a significant disadvantage in their studies due to having no home internet access. This has created an insurmountable gap which affects mostly rural communities.
Many families who lack home internet cite expense as the main reason.
This divide has created what the Associated Press is reporting as “the homework gap.”
Students are often forced to either go to hotspots to work — if there are any at all.
Expanding Internet Coverage
Ultimately, the single best way to expand internet access is to lower the costs. In most of these rural American towns, internet access is possible — it’s just not affordable.
Some companies have been working on low-orbiting satellites in an attempt to make internet connectivity faster and cheaper. SpaceX, for example, plans to send 1,600 of its Starlink satellites into low-orbit — which will provide faster speeds for a fraction of the cost.
However, the Starlink model is mostly designed to expand internet access rather than lower costs. For this, we need to talk specifically about using the internet in a more prudent, economical way.
Lower the Cost of Acess
The Internet should increasingly be seen as a fundamental basic necessity. However, it is not treated that way. This hurts students especially hard, putting them as a sizeable disadvantage if they don’t have internet access.
The common solution seems to be to lower costs — but the current issue is that our internet is not designed economically as of now. For example, bandwidth is used frivolously and not salvaged by ISPs.
Currently, there are a few blockchain-related projects which seek to allow for bandwidth sharing — thereby significantly reducing the cost.
Secondly, our current internet infrastructure is throttled by large conglomerates which are the gatekeepers. Not only do they push the price up but they add nothing to our digital space. Ultimately, they are dead weight and could easily be ‘decentralized’ away through distributed ledger-based systems.
The entire process of internet connectivity, on the managerial level, could be completely automated. After all, internet providers should be lean and cost-effective, not massive corporate entities with PR and advertising costs.
The internet today is far too expensive for some Americans. However, it’s that way by design. By leveraging blockchain technology, we can make the internet both cheaper and more accessible for all.
Do you believe internet providers offload all the costs to users disproportionately? Let us know your thoughts below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.