Chapter 8: Net Neutrality and the Digital Divide

The Internet, and all the wonderful applications and programs that leverage it, are not readily available in all parts of the world. While adoption and access continues to grow, some are still left out. What impact does this have on the haves and have-nots? What about the level of access people around the world enjoy? In the United States, the vast majority of internet users have access to relatively high data speeds. What if you only had a connection equivalent to a dial-up modem, that you can only use a couple times a week? In addition to issues above (considered in our Digital Divide section), a newer issue of Net Neutrality has emerged over the last decade, that deals with how Internet Carriers (such as Comcast) can charge Internet users. To date, carriers have very little ability to charge users different rates (although phone carriers are different). If I watch 100 hours of streaming video a week on my Comcast connection, and my neighbor checks email once a day, we still pay the same. If Net Neutrality goes away, I may need to pay exponentially  more money each month compared to what my neighbor pays for Internet service.

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Define and describe net neutrality.
  • Define and describe the digital divide.
  • Identify ways in which the digital divide impacts countries and Internet users across the globe.



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