RS 1: Mississippi

The Digital Divide in Mississippi

In “The Digital Divide in Mississippi”, Dr. Roberto Gallardo argues the severity of the digital divide within the state of Mississippi, emphasizing this through displaying data regarding broadband access. Dr. Gallardo goes on to offer strategies to bridge the digital divide, such as “loans and grants that can help providers upgrade or increase their broadband availability and speed” (2) and “digital literacy workshops.” (2) The article begins with the definition of the term “digital divide” and the negative impacts of this phenomenon. Two aspects of the digital divide were mentioned: “lack of access (including affordability) and refusal to adopt the technology.” (1) Dr. Gallardo goes on to then mention broadband as a method of measurement of the digital divide. He defines broadband, then demonstrates through Figure 1 and Figure 2 the spread of access to broadband both statewide and countywide. Dr. Gallardo argues that because Figure 1 demonstrates that “Mississippi ranked last in the nation in the availability of fixed broadband technology” (1), the digital divide remains a prominent issue. Through Figure 2, Dr. Gallardo mentions that “east Mississippi had much lower fixed broadband adoption as of December 2014.” (2). A few solutions were then mentioned to tackle the digital divide of Mississippi. The first solution was to entice Internet providers through federal loans and grants to introduce technology to the areas in Mississippi that lack the Internet. Another solution, developed to tackle lack of information regarding the importance of the internet, was to introduce digital literacy workshops. Dr. Gallardo mentions that “once Mississippians see the relevance and usefulness of digital technology, adoption rates should increase—assuming the technology is available and affordable.” (2) As a conclusion to the article, Dr, Gallardo mentions that “much remains to be done to narrow the digital divide” (2), but he remains hopeful “that better understanding of these issues and the value of digital technology will jumpstart needed conversations on how to bridge this divide.” (2)

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