Role of Internet Access during Covid-19 Pandemic
The novel coronavirus has intensified deeply prevailing inequalities in meaningful and affordable connectivity. Internet access has become a public good. It is a fundamental human right to use the internet in order to get better opportunities and access to the world.
Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, a variety of unique online activities gained people’s attention, and some individuals started spending more time on the internet. Consequently, this is changing the people’s views about the significance of the internet in their daily lives, economy, and in general.
However, there are still people who don’t have access to the internet yet. On one end we have an individual who might be wondering right now that it is getting hard to pay bills because internet options in my area are becoming unaffordable for me day by day. Alternatively, there is also a person who is fortunate enough to afford this blessing in these tough times and is busy enjoying its various perks and benefits.
Digital Inequality and the Novel Coronavirus
Billions of people in this world are still deprived of vital internet connections due to the digital divide. The COVID-19 outbreak has revealed the appalling digital divide present across the globe. Today, only 54% of people in the world are connected, of which the majority live in urban areas. Moreover, most of these individuals access the internet through schools, offices, libraries, restaurants, and other public spaces.
Alternatively, people living in rural and remote areas are unlikely to be online due to a lack of facilities available to them.
Internet Access in Wealthy Countries
This virus outbreak has also shed light on the fact that digital deprivation has created several problems even for rich countries. Almost one-third of households in New York City do not have access to a home broadband subscription. Whereas approximately 19% of the total Spanish population does not have a computer.
The problem is not only limited to global health pandemic. It has also stretched to the digital divide that continues to boost offline inequalities.
A survey from the Pew Research Center suggests that four out of every ten low-income households in America are deprived of broadband access. Other findings from Pew Research show that nearly 53% of the adults in America admitted the essential role that the internet played in their lives during the pandemic. While 34% considered the internet role as significant but not essential.
Financial Constraints and Internet Bills
The pandemic also resulted in unemployment and pay cuts that further reduced purchasing power. Many Americans started worrying about their finances and the ability to pay the internet, cable, and phone bills. A survey showed that almost 28% of the US citizens who have subscribed to a fast-speed internet connection at their homes are worried about paying their monthly bills. Similarly, around 30% of smartphone users are unable to pay their phone bills.
The Internet and Online Education
The transformation to online learning highlighted another major gap present in internet connectivity. As residents of the US switched to the internet for different purposes, arguments regarding the digital divide started to surface. Most people think that these divisions may hamper people’s ability to finish daily tasks.
All over the world, almost 90% of the students are out of their educational institutes. There is a continuous struggle to shift to e-learning that students are going through. The global pandemic has emphasized on the importance of widespread connectivity in homes and educational institutes.
It is high time we understand that internet access is not any opulence but an essential need. But unfortunately, almost 3.5 billion people do not have access to this basic need. There are also very few highly accommodating Internet service providers like Spectrum that are working to lessen the digital divide. Spectrum has come up with Internet Assist program to provide connectivity to low income households. Just call Spectrum internet customer service to find out if you are eligible.
Today, more than ever before, we need to make sure that everyone remains connected with their loved ones via the internet.