President Obama discussing his ConnectED initiative which has the goal of providing 99% of American students with high-speed internet access by 2018. Photo courtesy of the Utah People’s Post, www.utahpeoplespost.com
Access for All is an idea that has been taking shape more and more as technology, internet connection technology in particular, has become more advanced. Some countries are now treating internet access as a basic human right. The U.S., though not going quite that far, is trying to find a way to get at least basic internet access to more than 90% of the population. President Obama has called for a plan to bring internet access to 99% of all American students within 5 years. The United States in the only industrialized country without a national internet access policy. Many other nations such as Finland, Greece, and France have already recognized internet access as a basic human right according to the recommendation by the United Nations.
American citizens who don’t have internet access are at a huge disadvantage. For adults in the working world, applying for jobs is quite difficult without the internet as the vast majority of companies now require online submission of job applications or resumes. Students are also severely disadvantaged if they lack internet access. From a young age, kids can make use of the internet to get a leg up on their letters, numbers, reading and other basic skills. There are plenty of sites that offer free access to learning materials like these. Additionally, students are using the internet more and more for research and for enrollment, especially college students. Most colleges and universities require an email address in order for a student to enroll, and in many cases the enrollment process is almost exclusively done online. It is greatly important that all children and students have the same opportunities for education and advancement.
There are a number of projects in the works to bring internet connectivity to more people in more places. Once such venture is Google’s Project Loon. The name may sound a little odd, but this project has a ton of potential. The idea is to put a system of balloons up in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes can fly and twice as high as any weather. Then people down on the ground can access the internet through the balloon network using a special antenna made for internet connectivity. The antenna, once attached to their building, will then bounce a signal up to the balloon network which will, in turn, send the signal back down to the global internet here on the Earth. This project has been tested in a few locations and is still in development, but once complete and operational, it should allow for a great many people in rural areas to have the internet access which up to now has been very difficult for them to obtain.
Another great initiative is internet.org. This is a project started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in partnership with 6 other companies. Their basis is that only 1 of every 3 people in the world currently has internet access, and that number needs to increase. These companies are partnering together to find ways to provide internet access to more people worldwide and in so doing make the world a much more connected place. Check their website for more information about their ongoing endeavors.