The digital divide between and within countries
As you glance at the latest alert on your smartphone, do you pause to consider the varying levels of access to such technology around the world? Since the 1990s, the term ‘digital divide’ has referred to a gap between countries and groups within countries who have access to computers and the internet, and those who don’t. More recently, scholars and practitioners have included mobile phones and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the definition as well.
To analyse the digital divide in more detail, this blog post examines two countries: the Republic of Korea (Korea) and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Korea could be said to be an exemplar of life in the fast lane, while PNG falls, for the most part, on the other side of the divide.
Developments in the mobile phone sector are measured by reference to technological generations. First generation or 1G technology enables analogue mobile phones, including car phones. Second generation or 2G service is the first iteration of digital mobile phone technology, is suitable for mobile phone calls and text messaging and is usually based on GSM technology. Third generation (3G) is the first technology suitable for using the internet on mobile phones and allows users to surf the internet, check emails, and browse through Facebook. 4G and 5G technologies are faster and more advanced, allowing for quicker internet browsing. There are also intermediate 2.5 and 3.5 generations.
As is shown in Table 1, the first mobile phone services commenced in Korea in the 1980s. 2G commenced in 1996. 3G service, suitable for internet use, commenced in 2002. 4G service has been available in Korea since 2010.
Table 1: Korea mobile technology timeline
Developments in mobile phone technology and networks in PNG started later. As Table 2 indicates, the first …read more