Do you think broadband access is a nice to have or a necessity?

Posted 08 Feb 2012 by 

Jason Hibbets (Red Hat)
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Is broadband a necessity or a nice to have?
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Broadband is a nice to have
8% (27 votes)
Broadband is a necessity
92% (297 votes)
Total votes: 324

Last month, I attended the 5th Annual Leadership North Carolina Forum. The day was filled with amazing information and thought-provoking ideas for the future. However, one session I attended kept me thinking.

The session, The Digital Divide: Who's Building the Bridge included a panel of experts talking about access to broadband on a variety of levels. The panel was moderated by Mark Sorrells, Senior Vice President from the Golden Leaf Foundation and included the following experts:

  • Joe Freddoso, President and CEO of MCNC
  • Jack Stanley, Regional Vice Preseident of Government Relations, Time Warner Cable
  • Carlos Sanchez, Director of Statewide Affairs, AT&T North Carolina
  • Grant Goings, City Manager, City of Wilson, North Carolina

The big takeway for me was around the "rights" to broadband. During the session, I had on both my education and business hats.

I started thinking about how students could do their homework when it required Internet access. What if broadband was not at their home or a student did not have a device to connect with? What if it was available at their home, but not affordable? Would a 56-K modem even cut it now-a-days?

Now put your business hat on. Do businesses require a broadband connection to survive in today's business climate? Is it required to do business in real-time with global and local competition?

What do you think...is broadband a necessity or a nice to have?

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10 Comments

Beverly
Necessary, and in this world accessibility and affordability are human rights.
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jhibbets
Open Sourcerer
Good post from the NY Times on this topic: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/opinion/internet-access-is-not-a-human-right.html?_r=1" target=blank">Internet Access Is Not a Human Right</a>
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Beverly
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with Mr. Cerf and agree with a general statement made by the UN. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/06/internet-a-human-right/ Free and open Internet is a human right in the same way that a right not to be controlled by authoritarian regimes is a human right. To expand that a little- How can there be "right to freedom of opinion and expression" for people who are completely left out of the conversation? Of course, we have a long way to go: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
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Political Hash
Can someone explain to me how freedom of opinion and expression are curtailed by the lack of high-speed Internet access? We don't even give unborn humans the most basic of human rights but yet FREE high-speed access to the Internet is to be a human right? Following that logic, perhaps access to publishing articles in local print newspapers should be free too, along with free access to radio and TV stations' air time, billboards, and any other communication medium.
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Beverly Pearl
Open Minded
Since this discussion appears to have left the realm of the logical and entered that of the argumentum ad absurdum and the red herring, I will leave it to others to respond, or not, as the case may be.
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Political Hash
So, if I understand correctly, you simply are calling me stupid, bordering on nuts, and thereby simply dismissing my question as not worthy of an answer. So much for welcoming free expression in the marketplace of ideas... "The 'marketplace of ideas' belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an important part of liberal democracy." ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketplace_of_ideas
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jhibbets
Open Sourcerer
Play nice ;)
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dragonbite
Open Source Evangelist
The most common argument I hear to counter students not with broadband at home for doing homework is to use a library or public location. I seriously think that for any school to "require" the internet for homework, make it mandatory by THE SCHOOL THEMSELVES to provide an accessible means that is dignified and safe, for their students to use. Simply, if you require it then you have to provide it. Otherwise you are discriminating based on economic factors. Companies usually supply the technology and software to do your job. It makes sense because if you don't have it, you won't be productive and that will cost the company money with no chance of return. I don't think it is a "human right", though, because a lot is determined by your location and the infrastructure available. Are governments going to be tried for "crimes against humanity" because a town does not have internet? What if that same town doesn't have electricity?
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Beverly Pearl
Open Minded
Your comments have merit. However, they depend on schools having budgets and companies allowing employees to surf the net independently using company equipment. Even this ideal situation wouldn't help someone from the growing ranks of the unemployed who needs to maintain knowledge and understanding in order to raise him/herself out of poverty, or persons living in underdeveloped parts of the world where simply learning that there are methods out there for water purification could mean the difference between life and death for family members. In this age of instant information it can be critical for people to be 'plugged in', which in my mind makes it a human right. Either way, I don't think it should be tied to how much money people have. Egalitarian access to the opportunity to join this world-wide collaboration may be as important to the quality of the collaboration as it is to individuals who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to develop themselves.
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jhibbets
Open Sourcerer
91% vs 9% - I would have never have guessed these results. In today's world, access to broadband seems very important...and most of our readers agree. Other thoughts?
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Jason Hibbets is a project manager in Corporate Marketing at Red Hat where he is the lead administrator, content curator, and community manager for Opensource.com. He has been with Red Hat since 2003 and is the author of, The foundation for an open source city. Prior roles include senior marketing specialist, Red Hat Knowledgebase maintainer, and support engineer. Follow him on Twitter: @jhibbets

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