What is the Digital Divide?

What is the
Digital Divide?

The Digital Divide is a problem that affects people from all walks of life, and all income levels. It is a complex challenge, but the main issue that defines this Divide is access to reliable high-speed internet. In some areas, internet access is either limited, unavailable, or unaffordable for those who could be equipped. This leaves countless students (and professionals) to rely on public computers or spotty satellite signals as their only tools in an increasingly digital world. It leaves many more, like those in rural areas or living under the poverty line, without even that.

Where Is the Digital Divide happening?

The Digital Divide exists in all 50 states . . . from pockets of urban underserved communities to remote and rural affluent areas, it is surprisingly widespread. In K-12 settings, the Digital Divide is commonly seen when students have limited or no internet access at home or even school. This causes a lot of problems for students as they can struggle with completing assignments and furthering their knowledge outside of classroom hours. This problem increased further since the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent many students home to learn virtually.

Why is defeating the Digital Divide important?

The Digital Divide has economic, educational, social and cultural implications. Especially in K-12 schools, where children deserve access. Education is an important foundation for the rest of our lives and by limiting the opportunities in early life, the playing field will never be truly even in higher education, the workplace, or our communities as a whole. Giving students the opportunity to work and learn remotely regardless of where they live is just one of the ways to help bridge the gap between competitive academic opportunities in urban and rural areas.

Digital spaces are a crucial part of modern communities and have become a foundation for social, professional, and academic networks. Excluding individuals from these spaces means widening the Digital Divide, while leaving out important perspectives and cultures. Students with little-to-no access to communications such as email, IM and mobile phones can affect their social interactions for years to come.

For School Superintendents and CTOs, the Digital Divide also allows bad actors to threaten and target schools and entire districts that aren’t secure – no matter where they are located – for cyber attacks. And Wi-Fi is largely considered a non-secure, or easily hackable, platform.

About Defeat the Digital Divide

The internet has become an integral tool in education that enables students to access school resources online while opening up new worlds of learning. But with 42 million Americans unable to obtain internet access no matter their incomes, roughly 16 million K-12 students lack reliable digital connections to their schools. This Digital Divide affects school districts in all communities, from rural to urban, and encompasses all income levels.

Defeat the Digital Divide’s mission is to bridge this gap by providing educational resources to bring connectivity to the communities that need it. Led by a collaboration of leading technology experts, STEP CG and Cradlepoint, and educators who combine their expertise and passion for helping kids learn to connect school districts to the resources and funding available to bring reliable internet service to their students.

This website provides a comprehensive portal outlining solutions for improving a district’s dedicated connectivity, from direct carrier agreements to partnering with a technology provider to construct their Long Term Evolution (LTE) tower. Solutions are tailored to the area’s specific needs, challenges, and local requirements.

While this portal is geared toward school officials, Defeat the Digital Divide is a valuable education resource and tool for various community members — from superintendents, teachers, and community members to local government officials — to gauge their community needs and explore connectivity options. Users also have access to vital information that can assist in obtaining proper funding - including who to contact, how to file for it, and how to use it.

We have taken the time to design a site that is clear, concise, and user-friendly. District officials can visit the site on their own time to gain foundational knowledge before taking a deeper dive into the vast resources and funding available to them.

Several helpful tools within site are designed to help districts gain knowledge and make decisions about implementing their own network, including:

  • Success stories from other school districts
  • Digital Divide Readiness Assessment
  • Defeat the Digital Divide Checklist

Defeat the Digital Divide provides information and educational resources to help K-12 schools ensure their students have access to the technology they need to succeed. We offer school districts engaging learning tools to build solutions that will enable them to close the gap between those who have access to reliable internet service and those who don’t.

Readiness Assessment

We’ve built an interactive tool with the questions you need to be answering.