Universal Service: Socioeconomic Considerations for Broadband Access
Other conference contribution, 2009
In the context of the information society, to be able to communicate and interact is a crucial and decisive factor for every citizen and business. New interactive services should be accessible to every citizen in a country, so that the benefits of new technologies and services accrue in all areas. This should in turn benefit the overall economic efficiency of society. The adoption of a liberalization policy does not automatically bring such benefits to all regions of a country, partly because the existing levels of infrastructure and services are significantly lower in some areas, and partly because of educational and institutional barriers to the use of new ICTs.
Since the broadband divide becomes an issue for the information society, many policies have been initiated to bridge this divide. Widening the scope of universal service policy to cover broadband access is one policy option. However, moving broadband into such a direction needs to be carefully examined. Socio-economic issues are among those that need to be analyzed. This paper examines comprehensive theoretical research on the digital divide and its impact in the information society. Results of several studies in relation to broadband are provided. The paper will also analyze the relation between socio-economic issues and implications for broadband, with conclusions on whether or not socio-economic factors can be a reason for broadband universal service.