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In this assignment, you will write a Paper according to the criteria and steps outlined below.

  1. Select a topic from the list provided on page 2.

Next, if the topic permits, choose a perspective to work from, from within your industry or field.  You might choose a perspective from business, industry interest-group or lobby group, non-profit, or a research/think tank.

  1. Conduct extensive research into your chosen issue/debate. What you examine will depend on what you’ve chosen, but may include causes, effects, factors, range of positions, and history of action related to that issue.

You must use at least 5 credible industry-level sources suitable to your topic and your organization.

You must include at least 1 well-labelled and appropriately styled visual representation of information that you design. You can use quantitative (numerical data) and/or qualitative information in your visuals. Your visual can be graphs, charts, infographics etc. – any visual representation of any kind of information/relationships/trends etc. You will design 1 visual yourself, and label it as such. You may also include visuals from other sources, but be sure they are relevant and that you cite them.  

  1. You will synthesize this research strategically to highlight the needs of the group or organization you are writing for.

While the White Paper is a synthesis of research material written to inform, it also contains a persuasive component, indicating (sometimes subtly) an argument, policy approach, practice, or position for the industry or organization.

Finally, link your synthesis and the position you have taken on the issue to the strategic interests of the organization you represent.

Digital Divide: The term “digital divide” has been used since the 1990s to describe the division between those with access to internet technology and those without. The term is not outdated though, because the divide transforms as technology does. Divides can be seen within broad distinctions such as age, gender, economics, race, location, and more.

Write a white paper analyzing one form of digital divide within Canada and persuading the audience to accept practical improvements. Look at disparity within Canada as a whole, a province, or a community. Write as if you are informing a specific audience within government or education, for example, reporting to a school district’s Board of Education about the disparity of internet access in elementary schools within the district, and offering recommendations for improvement.

How disparity in technology affects the citizens

Digital divide which is also known as digital split is one of the social issues which refers to the quantity of information between those that have broadband access of internet and those that do not have access. The term digital divide became prevalent among the parties involved, such as advocacy groups and policy makers in the late 1990s.

Generally speaking, the dissimilarity is not determined necessarily by accessibility to the internet, but by the access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and different media segments that that societies can use. In relation to the internet, there is only one aspect of access, other factors like connection speed and quality and related services should be deliberated. Currently, the main issue being discussed is the accessibility, affordability and quality.

The digital divide does not have a clear particular gap which subdivide a society into groups. Researchers in this field report that demerits may take forms as dialup or narrowband connections (i.e. higher price or lower-quality connections), low access to contents that are based on subscription and difficulty in finding the required technical assistance (Van Dijk, 2017).   

The digital divide can be attributed to many factors which include the cost of technology and online access, variation in access to digital resources depending on the location within the country and overall ignorance towards digital skills. This divide can also be associated with inequality in incomes among Canadians as well as diversity in practices related to online connectivity evident in terms of age, first language, gender and cultural background. The north of Canada specifically has had issues of being technologically divided in relation the other parts of the country. This has been attributed to factors of economy and geography which have made it impossible to have high speed internet connection. It can also be related to the fact that the population is low and the resident have low digital literacy.

The digital divide in Canada is however being addressed by the government. These include initiatives that aim at providing Canadians with high speed internet which is affordable, increase the number of free Wi-Fi hotspots and also increase the digital literacy within students in high and elementary schools. However, there is no consensus in the appropriateness of the government intervention when it comes to addressing this digital divide (Bronson, 2019).

The digital divide evident among the residents of Canada will be discussed in relation to the economy, age, location, gender and social aspects;

Economy

This topic will be discussed in terms of the levels of income for different Canadians. The income disparity in Canada plays a major role in influencing the online status of the citizens. According to statistics, 97.7% of the citizens living in areas that have high income quartile have access to high speed internet access. While on the low income neighborhoods, there is only 58% of households with access to internet.  Acorn Canada conducted a research that showed that 83.5% of residents and Canadian families believed that the cost of internet per month was very expensive in Canada. Yet on another research conducted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority reported that in the year 205, the average amount of money paid by the Canadian citizens for access to high speed internet every month was $38.91 and $203.04 for all the communication services provided. Acorn Canada has made it their responsibility to advocate for a $10 high speed internet package so as to ensure all Canadians can afford the internet access.  

Another aspect of the economy is the prices that internet providers charge. It is clear that 99% of the Canadians have access to wired telephone service line but this does not accommodate the difference in levels of ICT access among them. In the year 2015, over thirteen million subscribers of fixed broadband. This can be translated to mean that approximately thirty-six out of a hundred citizens were active subscribers (Mavrou, Meletiou-Mavrotheris, Kärki, Sallinen & Hoogerwerf, 2017). A while ago in Canada, Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission imposed regulations on telephone and television monopolies. But as at now there are no regulations to Broadband at the retail level and this has led to emergence of high speed internet access with internet service providers having great control over the prices and infrastructure they offer.

Lack of competition in the industry is a major influence towards the rise in prices that the internet service providers are incurring on the Canadians while they access the Internet. The Canadian government has forbidden the entry of foreign service providers into the country and this is the main reason why the existing service providers have the audacity to charge very high costs. This has given the Canadians a limited number of choices for the internet service provider options and great power to the ISP companies who control the charges for internet access. The CRTC has in response to this given access to new entrants into the business and by doing this the citizens will have multiple options for purchasing internet services. This step will increase the competition within the market and there is a chance of the prices going down. It has also given the chance to companies which do not have resources or capital to build their own network a chance to compete. The new entrants in Canada include companies like TekSavvy that have been given the mandate to access incumbent carrier networks like Rogers and Bell. The new entrants offer much cheaper internet packages compared to the existing ISPs. The new entrants have planned to provide prices that are between 30% and 20% less than those of the incumbent internet providers that provide similar speeds. Among the plans offered by the new entrants include huge data caps, sometime during the day when the access is free and some even offer no data caps at all per month.

Age

Despite this actions that CRTC are taking to ensure the competition is active even with regard to the fact that the foreign competitors are not allowed into the market, the prices of internet access are still on the rise. Since 2010, the average cost of high speed internet has risen by around three times. With the increase in demand for internet access, the Canadians have continued to suffer under the incumbent internet providers who steadily increase the prices without fear of losing customers. According to the International Telecommunication Union, the Canada’s mobile section had the highest revenue average in 2010 in comparison to other countries. While in 2015, the packages for mobiles ranged at an average price of $60 monthly.

The urban areas in Canada have a 100% high speed internet availability while in the rural areas the high speed internet accessibility was 87% (Park & Kim, 2015). Location which do have access to high speed internet include the Northwest Territories, Iqaluit and Yukon. This is attributed to the geographical features in those areas which make it difficult to establish the infrastructure necessary for high speed internet access. These difficulties are reinforced by the fact that there is little incentive for internet service providers to develop broadband infrastructure in the north because it is expensive and the returns might be low in such a developing area with towns and people being greatly dispersed. There also exist differences in the quality of internet that different Canadians get access to depending on their location in the country (Roberts, Beel, Philip & Townsend, 2017). Citizens in recently developed and renovated neighborhoods have access to fiber to the premises (FTTP) internet access while those in older neighborhoods gain access by using the legacy telephone cables commonly known as cable technologies (Quan-Haase, Williams, Kicevski, Elueze & Wellman, 2018). Canada was in 2015 ranked number twenty-four in the order of countries that have FTTP penetration at a level of below 5%.

A research performed in 2013 indicated that Canadians aged sixteen years and above are connected to the internet and are active participants (Buckingham, 2015). This number has grown from 73% of the young people engaging in online activities which was recorded in the year 2007 (Schreurs, Quan-Haase & Martin, 2017). Five million of the people living in Canada are over sixty-five years and that age group consist of one of the highest level of engagement in ICT activities and online business as a result of lacking the essential digital skills (Robinson, Cotten, Ono, Quan-Haase, Mesch Chen & Stern, 2015). Ageism can be considered as another aspect that affects this number as the old people feel almost completely disconnected to the online issues and they also discourage the culture of being online which is evident among young people (Lagacé, Charmarkeh, Laplante & Tanguay, 2015). Issues related to accessibility also hinder the older Canadians from being able to access online services and other small issues like websites with little fonts that make it impossible for them to navigate through we World Wide Web (Friemel, 2016).

Location

The division in regard to women and men who have access to internet services is continuously shrinking to also no difference at all. However, considering the type and quantity of use that exist between the two genders, the gap is still evident. The males in Canada make more use of the internet in general compared to females. In opposition to that, females are found to be more active in social media platforms compared to men. The difference in activities of social media is 58% more among women than in men.

This divide will be discussed in terms of the culture and the language. The fact that Canada is a multilingual country has resulted to great disparities the resources that different language speakers access in the internet. In the earlier years when the Internet was not so developed, this aspect caused a lot of differences because the Canadian who speak French would not access internet due to lack of French websites. Canadian cities have over half the resident being immigrants. This can also be another basis to consider when looking at the digital divide. Residents who are Canadian born and those who have resided in Canada for a long time have a 68% chance of accessing internet compared to the newly migrated residents (Ball, Francis, Huang, Kadylak, Cotten & Rikard, 2019).

The government of Canada should initiate plans to First Nations communities in Canada with access to high speed internet. The Canadian government should continue setting aside $2.2 million for funding and support towards the Pathways to Technology project in British Columbia. This project emphasizes on connecting the “unserved and undeserved” First Nation residents that reside in provinces with internet connectivity. $4.3 million should continue being provided in Manitoba for funding the Technology Council whose sole purpose is to provide high speed internet to all the sixty-three First Nation communities that reside in the province. This project is estimated to require a three thousand six hundred kilometers of optical fiber cable.

As a way of ensuring affordable internet connectivity in Canada, it is proposed that internet access be considered a basic need alongside television and telephone services. Hearings pertaining to this suggestion must be set up in order to analyze the idea’s feasibility. The government should run a program that aims at improving the Canadian’s access to broadband network. This project must have an aim of providing all Canadians with a minimum quality of five megabytes per second for internet download speeds and one megabyte for upload speeds. According to this project, the suggested bandwidth would be sufficient for good internet access. Public access of internet is another way that can help reduce the gap in internet access (Singh, 2017). The Toronto and google partnership that provide citizens who cannot afford online connectivity with portable hotspots must be facilitated. The hotspots will be carried around homes and will have usable data of up to ten Gigabyte monthly. Their availability should be expanded and extensively to distributed to more than the six public libraries offering the service within Toronto. In addition to that, the CRTC should be asked to determine a sufficient service quality that has a fixed price for ISPs to offer within their packages. Such regulations are expected to reduce the digital divide among residents who suffer due to lack of enough funds (Fox & Connolly, 2018). Finally, the digital literacy should be increased among Canadians. Its government should adopt strategies for improving digital literacy such as those adopted by the united states of America and Australia which encourage children to be taught digital literacy from as early as kindergarten (Pick, Sarkar & Johnson, 2015). The levels should then be continuously increased across other levels of education up to the 12th grade. However, this is difficult for the government to implement since schools are controlled at the provincial level. The government can therefore enforce the provinces to implement the idea of digital literacy in the school curriculum.

References

Ball, C., Francis, J., Huang, K. T., Kadylak, T., Cotten, S. R., & Rikard, R. V. (2019). The physical–digital divide: Exploring the social gap between digital natives and physical natives. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 38(8), 1167-1184.

Bronson, K. (2019). The Digital Divide and How it Matters for Canadian Food System Equity. Canadian Journal of Communication, 44(2).

Buckingham, D. (2015). Defining digital literacy-What do young people need to know about digital media?. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 10(Jubileumsnummer), 21-35.

Fox, G., & Connolly, R. (2018). Mobile health technology adoption across generations: Narrowing the digital divide. Information Systems Journal, 28(6), 995-1019.

Friemel, T. N. (2016). The digital divide has grown old: Determinants of a digital divide among seniors. New media & society, 18(2), 313-331.

Lagacé, M., Charmarkeh, H., Laplante, J., & Tanguay, A. (2015). How ageism contributes to the second-level digital divide: The case of Canadian seniors. Journal of technologies and human usability, 11(4), 1-13.

Mavrou, K., Meletiou-Mavrotheris, M., Kärki, A., Sallinen, M., & Hoogerwerf, E. J. (2017). Opportunities and challenges related to ICT and ICT-AT use by people with disabilities: An explorative study into factors that impact on the digital divide. Technology and Disability, 29(1-2), 63-75.

Park, S., & Kim, G. (2015, March). Same access, different uses, and the persistent digital divide between urban and rural internet users. TPRC.

Pick, J. B., Sarkar, A., & Johnson, J. (2015). United States digital divide: State level analysis of spatial clustering and multivariate determinants of ICT utilization. Socio-Economic Plannig Sciences, 49, 16-32.

Quan-Haase, A., Williams, C., Kicevski, M., Elueze, I., & Wellman, B. (2018). Dividing the grey divide: Deconstructing myths about older adults’ online activities, skills, and attitudes. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(9), 1207-1228.

Roberts, E., Beel, D., Philip, L., & Townsend, L. (2017). Rural resilience in a digital society. Journal of Rural Studies, 54, 355-359.

Robinson, L., Cotten, S. R., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W., ... & Stern, M. J. (2015). Digital inequalities and why they matter. Information, communication & society, 18(5), 569-582.

Schreurs, K., Quan-Haase, A., & Martin, K. (2017). Problematizing the digital literacy paradox in the context of older adults’ ICT use: Aging, media discourse, and self-determination. Canadian Journal of Communication, 42(2).

Singh, S. (2017). Bridging the gender digital divide in developing countries. Journal of Children and Media, 11(2), 245-247.

Van Dijk, J. A. (2017). Digital divide: Impact of access. The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects, 1-11.

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