Closing the digital divide is more than just an issue for schools or rural communities, it’s an issue that affects us all. Over ten million Americans lack access to high-speed internet, limiting the accessibility of public health information, employment resources, learning programs, and much more.
A myriad of federal programs are currently working to close the gap, but exciting developments within the private sector are making huge headway in unexpected ways. Here are four technologies that are working to close the digital divide.
Mesh Wireless Networks
Resourceful low-population communities around the country are resorting to so-called “mesh” networks to create broadband internet access. The networks are created through the physical placement of routers on hard-to-reach locations like rooftops; the routers knit together wireless networks that span blocks and even miles. The systems are organic, springing up bit-by-bit, but advocates are pushing for organizational efforts that could help maintain the networks’ long-term at low or even no cost to users.
Improvised Broadband Towers
Isolated communities are typically the last to receive broadband infrastructure, if at all. Regional wireless providers that cover rural communities are starting to get creative, installing transmitters on any tall structure that can support the infrastructure in an effort to close that “last mile.” Placement varies, but some of the more unusual improvised towers include grain silos, windmills, and even church steeples.
Utilizing the TV Spectrum
The field of “white space” could be the next frontier in broadband access for formerly cut-off communities. By utilizing unused white space within the TV frequency spectrum (and employing a host of other infrastructures like antennas and power), broadband providers could potentially provide access to hundreds of thousands of people who essentially live “off the grid.” The plan is ambitious and long-term, but even big-name telecom providers are beginning to wade into the white space waters.
WiFi Enabled School Buses
Children are some of the hardest-hit by an inability to access the internet. School buses are going digital, and one of the most important impacts could come from bus-installed WiFi routers. The routers allow kids (many of whom live in areas that result in long commutes) to access the internet on their way to and from school. The networks themselves are school-managed meaning web access can still be effectively filtered to ensure students use the technology for enrichment, not abuse.
Smoothwall is invested in an accessible, enjoyable online experience. Widespread broadband access opens opportunities and connects communities.
As more schools and regional organizations come online, the need for advanced filtering technology grows. Smoothwall’s suite of tech-forward filtering and security solutions is answering the call. When administrators need a reliable, customizable way to manage the internet available to web users, they call Smoothwall.
Ready to learn more? Reach out to one of Smoothwall’s friendly team members today to get started.
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