Universal Broadband: A Basic Human Right?
Electricity was the big invention during the 20th century. The governments at that time took the measures that were necessary to ensure that electricity was available at reasonable prices to every citizen. This is the reason why electricity is such an integral part of any human civilization today.
Just like electricity was the biggest innovation in the 20th century, broadband internet is the biggest innovation now. It is for this reason that many people are of the opinion that just like electricity, the government should also make efforts to ensure that each human being has access to fast broadband at a reasonable price.
In this article, we will have a closer look at the policy of universal broadband. We will also list down the pros and cons of this policy.
What Is Universal Broadband?
A service can be called to be a universal service when it becomes the governments responsibility to ensure its availability at a reasonable price. The call for universal broadband is being heard in most nations in the developed world. The national government in the United Kingdom is considering whether to declare broadband as a universal service. Some local governments in the United States have already taken this step. Consider the case of California, which has recently enacted the Internet for All Now act. Similar programs are also being undertaken in states like New York, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the European Union is also on the verge of implementing the universal broadband system.
- Overcoming the Digital Divide: The basic doctrine behind the above-mentioned policy is that the internet has not become an integral part of our day to day lives. Hence, any human being who does not have access to high-speed internet is at a disadvantage. They do not have access to a wide range of free services such as education and jobs because of the lack of internet. This phenomenon has been named the digital divide. It means that opportunities are only concentrated in the hands of the urban people whereas the poor and the rural are left out. The biggest argument in favor of universal broadband is that it will help in the removal of this digital divide.
- Economic Efficiency: The introduction of the universal internet is also likely to improve the efficiency in any given region. Mundane tasks such as grocery shopping and payment of bills which take a lot of time in the real world can be accomplished within seconds. Also, with the advent of online shopping, consumers have access to a wide variety of goods and services once they are online. Hence, when the universal internet is implemented, the end result is the increase in competition. This exerts a downward pressure on the prices of goods and services which creates more efficiency in the economy.
There are many obvious advantages to having universal internet. However, there are also several disadvantages which are not as obvious. Lets have a closer look at some of the disadvantages.
To sum it up, there are mixed reactions to the idea of universal broadband. Some people believe that it is a socialist policy that will make the government pay for private usage. On the other hand, others believe that this policy has the potential to bridge the huge urban-rural divide that prevails in the market today.
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