GIIC Commissioner Robert Nichols – Conquering the Last Mile

Broadband access is central to the economic development of communities around the world. With a renewed focus on this priority in the U.S., Commissioner Bob Nichols places his message on the dime in this article that outlines how to get the remaining 10% served with high-speed Internet.

…what makes it more frustrating is that the components to eliminate this digital divide already exist.

Robert Nichols,
Commissioner & CEO

Fifty-three percent of world’s population is still not connected to the Internet.  This equates to 3.9 billion people without access to the digital engine driving the bulk of the world’s social, economic and educational advancement.  Much has been said about the need to bridge this gap, but the digital divide remains a significant global challenge. We tend to think that these “have nots” are mainly located in China, Africa, or South America.  It often comes as a surprise that within the borders of the United States, 39% of the rural population does not have broadband Internet access[1].  Overall there are 34 million US citizens that still have no or sub-standard access to this basic utility that drives so much of our everyday lives.

The problem is not only in geographically rural areas, but also exists in some inner-city areas.  While residents of surrounding communities have access to highspeed broadband, residents in these blighted areas often do not, as carriers do not see the return on investment for equipping them with high-speed access.  Without access to the digital economy, these communities are threatened with obsolescence, experiencing an overall decrease in commercial growth, resulting in increased unemployment, persistent poverty levels, and population decline.

While lack of high-speed access in these areas is a sad reality, what makes it more frustrating is that the components to eliminate this digital divide already exist.

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Source: Global Information Infrastructure Commission