Holiday Amusement: Internet access

Digital Divide slowly closing

It has been said many times that access to the internet is fundamentally access to the digital economy — those without will fall further behind in education, income and knowledge. In the past decade, the number of people without access has fallen to about 17% of the U.S. population, thanks mostly to smartphones which are the device used most frequently to access the internet. Morning Brew

dis-rup-shun: Looking more closely at the numbers, it is clear that rural populations are most under served, as nearly 30% of rural residents don’t have access. The reasons for no access are attributable to service providers, who have chosen not to cover sparse, unprofitable areas, and to legislators who have chosen not to require coverage for every citizen, regardless of location or cost. Of course, some citizens in every geography will not connect even if offered internet service for free due to fear, poverty or illiteracy. Meanwhile Musk and others are launching satellite constellations such as Starlink that aim to place a belt of satellites in low orbit, eventually providing broadband access to almost every geography on the planet. Serving the under served is not a very attractive business proposition, since only a small percentage of the under served desire or are prepared to pay for service. Satellite providers, therefore, will increase the supply of services, locking terrestrial providers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile/Sprint in an eternal price battle until one party proves that it can differentiate its network sufficiently to charge a premium. All in all, broadband services measured in Mbps per dollar will continue to fall in price as demand for higher speeds climbs. Expect high growth of mobile devices that perform bandwidth hungry functions, such as video and navigation, to proliferate our lives in the coming decade.

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