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Making Good on Municipal Promises: Can Municipal Wireless Broadband Networks Reduce Information Inequality

Making Good on Municipal Promises: Can Municipal Wireless Broadband Networks Reduce Information Inequality
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Author(s): Andrea Tapia (The Pennsylvania State University, USA), Julio Angel Ortiz (The Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Edgar Maldonado Rangel (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 4
Source title: Emerging Trends and Challenges in Information Technology Management
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-019-6.ch161
ISBN13: 9781616921286
EISBN13: 9781466665361

Abstract

Broadband access is commonly believed to be essential for all, yet is not available to all. The skills necessary to use information and communications technologies are not universally prevalent, yet seen as becoming more centrally necessary to navigate everyday tasks. In order to fill the gap, municipalities are stepping in to offer wireless broadband access, turning the top-down traditional means of supplying telecommunication service and policy on its head. These municipal actions have provoked a flurry of responses from concerned constituents, including fixed line operators, and state legislators and the U.S. Congress. Currently legislation pending exists at both state and federal levels to address this issue. The basic premises upon which this research rests are the following; (1) Access to and skilled use of the internet are linked to social, political and economic success in the United States. (2) Access to and skilled use of the internet are not evenly distributed across all populations in the United States. A digital divide exists (for various values of digital divide), (3) Various levels of government have sought to narrow the gap via policy and programs at all governmental levels. (4) A lack of understanding of the digital divide, and the effects of the government actions on this divide demand additional study, (5) Recent actions in over 100 American cities to become internet service providers of wireless internet access to their citizens provide a unique opportunity to study the digital divide and observe the effects of government actions, (6) The language that many of these cities are using to explain their entrance into the ISP arena is to address both cost and access issues for disenfranchised citizens, attempting to narrow the digital divide.

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