The gateway to universal broadband
Our relationship with the digital world is complicated, and the ideal of a restful vacation often involves disconnecting and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. At the same time, we hate to be left out.
But too many people have no choice about opting in or out of the digital world. According to the World Economic Forum, a third of the world’s population (2.9 billion people) has no Internet access. The pandemic put this digital divide in the spotlight. While many of us were able to keep working or studying from home during lockdown periods, those without access were suddenly left disconnected from their jobs, schools, friends and families.
A widening digital divide
This is not a temporary problem or a third-world issue. Many people live in rural communities that are off the digital grid. Another 20 percent of the population is underserved and must make compromises on how to use limited bandwidth. These people often live in older neighborhoods and rely on broadband services that connect over telephone copper wires laid decades ago. This aging infrastructure can no longer keep up with increasing bandwidth needs.
Investment in universal broadband is essential for closing the digital divide and creating a more inclusive society with a higher standard of living. The digital world is driven by data and the flow of digital goods is limited by the bandwidth available to transfer bits. As data becomes richer and larger in volume, broadband access networks must become faster.
The broadband edge of the digital world
Network operators and governments around the world are making big investments in fiber deployments to spur economic growth and bridge the digital divide. Fiber is the preferred and future-safe access technology. It’s made of cheap and abundant material, offers virtually infinite capacity and has the lowest carbon footprint.
But trenching fiber can be costly and time-consuming, especially in lower-density rural areas and mature neighborhoods. 5G fixed-wireless access can complement wireline deployments by providing fiber-grade access speed in the last mile. Residential broadband does not require mobility features, and regulators are freeing up spectrum for unlicensed use in the mmWave band to reduce deployment costs.
To capitalize on precious investments in faster access, network operators must also scale the broadband edge. The broadband edge is an essential network demarcation point that manages subscriber access to digital content on the internet and in private clouds. It plays a key role in helping operators deliver and monetize digital services and ensure fair and equal access in congestion situations. Because of this, it must be able to support the evolution to multiple access technologies, higher data speeds, more users and more services.
Our recently introduced Multi-Access Gateway addresses these needs with a scalable and versatile subscriber edge that supports the evolution of wireline to high-capacity fiber access and enables operators to leverage fixed-wireless access to optimize broadband coverage.
The new digital frontier
Universal broadband will break down the technology barriers that prevent many people from connecting with the digital world. The digital world removes many physical boundaries, social barriers and filters that are holding people back and there is a breathtaking potential in the fusion of the digital and the physical world.
With universal broadband, all of us will be able to connect with friends, family and co-workers around the world and gain equal access to news, job opportunities, shopping deals, entertainment, education and healthcare. From our comfortable chairs, we will be able to virtually travel to any destination in the world, teleport to any time in history and share whatever we like.
But unfettered internet access also exposes new challenges. IT professionals call it PEBCAK, which stands for “problem exists between chair and keyboard.” New migrants of the digital world will need guidance and tools to safely navigate the highways and byways of the digital world. Even experienced users need reminders that what happens in the digital world can have big consequences in the real world if you’re not careful.
But “it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have”, as Franz Kafka pointed out. Everyone should have the opportunity to opt in to the digital world instead of being left out or behind. Our mission is to help the world act together and we have the broadband technology to enable that.
To learn more about our program, please visit https://www.nokia.com/about-us/sustainability/bridging-digital-divide/.
For more information about our broadband edge solutions, please visit https://www.nokia.com/networks/broadband-edge.