Wednesday, May 03, 2006

On the wrong side of the digital divide

There's an increasing amount written about the "digital divide". Those in society with high-speed internet access (generally termed as broadband) and those with access at dial-up speeds. Not to forget those with no access at all.

BB is expensive. Despite the price decreases, and bundle offers from operators like TalkTalk, it's another monthly cost that many families can ill afford on top of their monthly mobile bill, cable/satellite subscription, car lease payback, as well as utility bills.

So is dial-up access so bad?

Well this week, I'm away from home and limited to dial-up and GSM/GPRS access. No half-meg BB at home. No speedy corporate LAN in work. No wireless in the coffee shop.

(I'm guessing that most people reading this blog are on a pretty fast connection.)

I needed to upload a 200K image onto a discussion forum being used to plan an event later this summer. Normally takes a second or so. Not this week. Every byte starts to count - as you wait for the progress bar to hit 100%.

Lots of "normal" activities take much more time. Can't just look up the weather on the web when you feel like it - got to wait for dial-up connection ... better of with Ceefax!

No downloading new episodes of podcasts this week. Many websites display soooo sloooowwwwwly that my patience has expired before the graphics arrive.

The digital divide is real. And for those relying on internet access in public libraries, the current cutbacks in NI education boards has threatened many of the smaller libraries that provide this in local communities.

Maybe once a month we should all spend a day on dial-up - just to remind us that not everything is so whizzy.

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