Digital Inclusion through Municipal Networks

By 6 July 2019 January 13th, 2020 Digital inclusion, Internet access

“Free access to Information” should be a human right in the digital age. Does sound right, does it? We know that our children are digital, we know that we have to have digital skills if we want to have decent work. So, why don’t we have free access to information wherever we are?

Linda Firveld had send me the a “need to watch” of Hasan Minhaj’s episode on the monopoly of Internet provision. And I spent the 19 minutes to watch…

First of all, I got surprised. I really thought that America was a digital country. Having watched the video, you’ll see how monopolies dominate the market, and that there is a complete lack of regulations. All this contributes to a digital divide which is bigger than anticipated. Furthermore, the video is a good example why people living in areas without broadband will not have the chance in making business. Examples like “a doctor needs to drive to Mc Donald to be able to access emergency pictures from the hospital, because he does not have Internet at home” is unbelievable.

Looking into Norway, I can still remember that Municipalities rolled out their own fibre, because the Broadband suppliers did not find it economically interesting to invest in rural areas. I thought that was history, until I listened to Jan Aspheim from Hvaler kommune telling about all the investments they made in the municipality. And I really got surprised when he started talking about broadband. Yes, Hvaler kommune has an own focus on bringing fibre to every house and hut.

And the reason is not to give everyone broadband to watch TV through Internet, Netflix, HBO or whatever. The reason is to be able to build services for the inhabitants of the municipality.

It’s about establishing a fiber network with open interfaces, and to use ICT for novel services, innovation and a sustainable development (#ICT4Society). By connecting every house and hut, it will be an #Inclusive activity, it opens up for free access to information for all, and it opens up for digital goods for all. Thus, Hvaler will be a Digital Implementation Champion, addressing the recommendations of the report “the Age of Digital Interdependence” from the United Nations High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.

Two examples addressing the role of broadband, regulations and municipal networks. And they leave the question:
What can we do to give everyone free access to information?

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