The lack of broadband internet access in West Virginia is a microcosm of a global issue (“Online Classes Are Offline for Many,” U.S. News, Sept. 14). Almost half of the world’s population lacks access to the internet, but many people are unaware of the extent of the digital divide.
The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored that the internet is an indispensable tool for keeping us connected, informed, working, innovating and learning. Improving access is paramount because when people are connected to the internet, they are connected to opportunity. At the Internet Society, we work with local communities in remote, underserved and indigenous areas around the world to extend internet access using low-cost wireless technologies and equipment. These “community networks” are built by and for locals and have connected communities in such varied places as the heart of Baltimore and indigenous communities in Canada and Hawaii by working with on-the-ground experts, advocates, engineers and service providers.
Community Networks can serve as a viable solution for expanding internet access in the U.S. and around the world. Innovative approaches and working with communities to identify and solve their own access needs are needed if we want to ensure that the internet is available to everyone.
Katie Watson Jordan