Broadband. Nice to have yes? Well the US thinks it’s just as nice as free flowing sewers and things like ‘lights’. That’s right, the US Broadband Opportunity Council this week released a report that described broadband as an core utility.
Now, being a digital design and development company we here at Experience Digital absolutely agree with this statement. If I weren’t able to lie in bed watching Netflix I would have to go back to playing solitaire or crying myself to sleep like the bad old days.
However, as strange as it may sound to those of us who remember a time before the internet (that’s right 90’s babies… such a time existed and it was awful) the internet has become so essential an element of living in the 21st century that it can easily be spoken of in the same sentence as sewage, water and electricity.
But what of the people who don’t have access to the internet? A recent report by the UN Broadband Commission found that over 57% of the world’s population will not have regular access to the internet in 2015. That is a staggering statistic (and not just because that figure comes in at just over 4.2 billion people which means my personal estimation of the total world population was off by almost a billion). What’s worse is that in the developing world, arguably the people who would benefit most from huge swathes of free information, only 1 in 10 will have access.
Internet access is so important it has been touted as the driving force behind every positive culture shift and rights revolution of the recent era. From something as fundamental as women’s rights to the recent democratic changes in the middle east, the so called “Arab Spring” the use of internet sources to teach and communicate has become seminal. Last quarter (Q1 2015) Facebook clocked in at 1.42 billion active users worldwide. Facebook and other social media companies have changed the way we communicate, the way we build communities and have made the world smaller.
About 6 months ago I heard of a young man called William Kamkwamba, living in Malawi who found a semi-rotten book on windmills in his local library. With this single source of information he transformed the lives of his family and then his village, offering safe drinking water and electricity. Imagine what that innovative young man could have done if, instead of a pond of information he had an ocean like the internet.
Unfortunately the problem isn’t just one of ‘access’. Access is only half the battle. The other is content. The UN report mentioned that many cultures in the developing world simply do not have the demand for the internet because there is nothing to read. Believe it or not, because of this lack of consumer driving force internet adoption is slowing down. That’s right, it’s slowing down worldwide while being accepted as a core utility in the world’s leading economy.
One of the larger concerns facing emerging economies is money. Not just the lack of it but the security of it and, worse, the trading of it. With global fluctuations affecting every single person on the planet now how can a trader in Malawi hope to accurately price their goods in a global economy without sufficient E-commerce platforms.
E-Commerce solutions, and many other exciting projects such as intelligent translation matrices and regionally geared content providers create a landscape field that we here at Experience Digital are more than happy help sculpt. Focussing on E-Commerce and tailored small business solutions is a passion of ours and, with the world getting ever smaller the opportunities are only getting bigger.
Excitement aside it’s good to know that our efforts can eventually, hopefully, make the world a nicer place too.