Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (2023)

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (1)

Joe Barry,

VP Marketing, Systems and Technology Cloud and Communications BU

Analog Devices

Author Details

Joe Barry

Joe Barry is the Vice President of Marketing, Systems and Technology Cloud and Communications Business Unit at Analog Devices. He is responsible for the Wireless Market Segment, along with the technology groups of high speed converters, SDR transceivers, and microwave communications. For more than 26 years, Joe has served in leadership roles in the wireless communications, consumer, and semiconductor industry. He earned a B.Eng. in electrical and electronic engineering from University of Greenwich and an MBA from the University of Limerick. Joe holds five patents in analog and digital video and audio technologies.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (2) Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (3) Close Details

Three billion people across the globe remain in the digital dark. Because they lack access to network infrastructure or affordable internet service, they miss the critical healthcare, education, and employment opportunities the rest of us rely on. In response, private industry, public institutions, and governments are creating new business models, partnerships, and alliances to reduce infrastructure costs, expand affordable access, and close the gap.


There is no quick and easy path to bridging the digital divide, but targeted planning and actions can make significant progress and bring us closer to digital equity.

  1. Attaining Affordable Access and Digital Literacy

    Broadband availability alone does not ensure equitable access. Even in connected urban communities, low-income families often lack access because they cannot afford to pay for services and technology. Large populations need cell phones and computers at home, training to attain digital literacy, information in their language, and easy-to-use interfaces.

  2. Justifying Investment

    Telecom and private network providers require acceptable returns. The high capital cost of building out network infrastructure and providing service in sparsely populated rural areas and developing nations with high speed connectivity at an affordable price is challenging.

  3. Cost Reduction through Shared Infrastructure

    The telecom industry needs the ability to build and scale networks that are bigger and more efficient. By investing in shared infrastructure, the industry can reduce ownership costs and deliver access—providing more affordable, high quality connectivity.

  4. Partnering to Bring Communities Connectivity

    The high costs of connecting more parts of the world with affordable broadband access require creative partnerships between businesses, service providers, technology experts, telecom infrastructure companies, community action groups, and governments.

  5. Private Sector Participation

    Large corporations and industry organizations possess some of the essential ingredients for bridging the digital divide—technology, management skills, and the ability to finance, monetize, and scale.

  6. Planning and Participation by Local, Regional, and National Governments

    A more progressive and collaborative regulatory environment to help attract investment, government participation, and funding will improve connectivity.

(Video) Land O’Lakes CTO Teddy Bekele on Bridging the Digital Divide | Technovation 658
Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (4)



Market conditions in many countries do not incentivize private companies to seek out rural, remote, or disconnected customers and connect them. To gain internet access in these areas requires building a network backbone across a vast territory, then adding branch networks (wired and wireless) to reach sparsely populated communities. It’s much more financially viable to build a system that reaches millions of customers in an urban area than to construct a long cable to reach and connect customers in a rural area.

A 10 percentage point increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.2% jump in real per capita GDP growth in developed economies.

The World Bank


Today, telcos, technology companies, community action groups, and governments are developing funding programs, forming creative partnerships, and working together to build shared infrastructure and deploy industry-wide, open standards-based technology solutions.

Analog Devices is nurturing the ecosystem by combining its advanced technologies in transceivers, power management, baseband software, and its industry-leading domain experience to help network infrastructure customers in their efforts to expand affordable access.

(Video) Bridging The Digital Divide
Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (5)


The 2022 CHIPS Act provides $65 billion to expand internet access for millions of people in the U.S., upgrading older technologies with high speed fiber or wireless networks. Included are $45 billion in state grants to fund companies, local governments, and nonprofits to expand broadband infrastructure. Funds will also subsidize monthly service plans for low-income households.

Partner2Connect (P2C) Digital Coalition is a multistakeholder alliance launched in line with the U.N. Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation globally through stakeholder collaboration—the only way to tackle a challenge of this scale and magnitude. The focus is on the hardest to connect communities in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (6)


Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is investing billions of dollars in programs and technologies to increase broadband availability, access, and affordability in emerging global markets. The company is investing in 10,000 kilometers of terrestrial fiber and 37,000 kilometers of subsea fiber with 2Africa to help bring millions of people faster access.

Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Meta have partnered to address fiber gaps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Together with 2Africa, they will complete a missing fiber link between East and West Africa, establish DRC as a connection hub for neighboring landlocked countries, promote open access infrastructure sharing, and improve reliability and speeds for 30 million people.

Nayatel and Meta have partnered to invest and build an open access fiber network to address the growing demand for urban connectivity for 10 million people in eight Pakistani cities.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (7)


O-RAN Alliance. Creating standards for Open Radio Access Networks: a limited choice of technology providers and the lack of flexibility in specific solutions make it challenging for operators to manage their networks nimbly. The O-RAN Alliance is creating standards that allow operators to choose multiple vendors to build out their networks, increasing innovation and flexibility, and reducing the total cost of ownership for network operators.

(Video) Offline Innovation: Bridging the Digital Divide in Latin America

TIP: The Telecom Infra Project. In a quest for increased competition, lower costs, and more choices—TIP is helping to build a global marketplace for O-RAN solutions. The TIP community, a global network of operators, network vendors, research organizations, and universities, is working to accelerate the development of open, interoperable, standards-based technology solutions.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (8)


The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), funded by a grant from Google’s charitable arm, is making it easier for Native Americans living in rural and tribal communities to access critical connectivity services. Native Americans living on reservations have some of the lowest access to broadband internet in the U.S.

The World Economic Forum recently launched the Edison Alliance. Its 1 Billion Lives Challenge aims to improve people’s lives through affordable and accessible digital solutions across healthcare, financial services, and education by 2025. The group aims to shape digital inclusion agendas and cultivate partnerships between government and industry leaders.

Giga, UNICEF, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Combining UNICEF’s experience in education and procurement, ITU’s expertise in regulation and policy, and the private sector’s ability to apply tech solutions at pace, Giga aims to connect every school in the world to the internet by 2030. Since 2019, Giga has connected more than 2.1 million students at over five thousand schools.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (9)


Amazon’s AWS Marketplace with Magma software preinstalled and license free will make fixed wireless and private network deployments quick and easy at a significantly lower cost of ownership. The open-source project will enable service providers to deploy 4G and 5G networks substantially faster.

Sparrow, a mobile phone service provider, is collaborating with programs providing mobile access to refugees in Texas, homeless youth in Chicago, and the disadvantaged in the San Francisco Bay area.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (10)


Cambium Networks: Connecting the Unconnected. A leading global provider of wireless infrastructure for business and residential broadband and Wi-Fi, Cambium Networks collaborates with and serves network operators in education, healthcare, industrial campuses, and municipalities to maximize broadband and Wi-Fi performance.

Analog Devices. Engineering for Good. We’ve developed important software-defined radio and harmonized power technologies for most of the world’s 5G networks. As a contributor to O-RAN and TIP, ADI encourages ecosystem diversity, innovation, and open access infrastructure to bring wired, wireless, and mobile access to the world’s population.



Network infrastructure needs to be more than just traditional cable or fiber to the home as the cost of laying cable in rural and remote regions or land-locked areas is prohibitive. “Addressing gaps in mobile internet connectivity is essential for any country’s development,” said Rima Qureshi, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Verizon.

(Video) Investing to Bridge the Digital Divide in the U.S.
Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (11)

Wireless connectivity via low Earth orbit satellite communications and cell towers can help close the digital divide. However, cost-effective network switches, routers, and components are still needed, along with affordable cell phones and data plans for people who can’t afford the cost.

Making Wi-Fi available to people when and where they need it. As widespread as Wi-Fi is, it’s still not ubiquitous. Meta is engaging with the industry to help accelerate Wi-Fi by enabling new technologies, expanding spectrum, and exploring new business models with ISPs, MNOs, and businesses.


Delivering fiber-like speeds over the air. Alaska Communications is deploying Terragraph-based solutions from Cambium Networks to provide gigabit speeds to homes and businesses. Using street-level mmWave radios, Terragraph leverages existing utility poles on streets to create a wireless distribution network. The mmWave technology, developed in part with Analog Devices, is able to deliver reliable, high speed fiber-like internet connectivity to urban and suburban customers—and does it at a fraction of the cost of fiber.

"Connectivity in itself isn’t sufficient. It’s learning how to use that connectivity.”

Justin Dent

Executive Director |


Bridging the Digital Divide: Business and Infrastructure Innovation (12)

Developing the technology and infrastructure to serve those in need will only occur with the commitment and cooperation between the private sector and community partners working together to reduce network total cost of ownership through shared infrastructure. Today, advocates from industry, local community action groups, and national, state, and local governments are democratizing access and connecting communities. Why? Because it makes good sense to invest in people and their future. By doing so, we also invest in our nations, our economies, and ourselves.

Recommended on Signals+

Bridging the Digital Divide: The Challenge
Bridging the Digital Divide: Access to Satellite Broadband Connectivity


What can you do to bridge the digital divide? ›

The digital divide can be closed by implementing digital inclusion policies, programs and tools that incorporate the following:
  1. Affordable, robust broadband internet service.
  2. Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user.
  3. Access to digital literacy training.
  4. Quality technical support.

What are 3 types of digital divide? ›

What is the digital divide?
  • Causes and types of digital divide. The digital divide is due to a combination of several factors. ...
  • Access gap. This is one of the main causes of the digital divide. ...
  • Generation gap. ...
  • Digital gender gap. ...
  • Strategies to bridge the digital divide around the world.

Why is it important to bridge the digital divide? ›

The digital divide broadens the gap between rich and poor. The rich will advance further as they can access high-quality education and information. On the contrary, the poor will drift even behind due to a lack of technology.

What is digital divide and its types how can it be bridged? ›

The digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology (ICT), and those that don't or have restricted access.

How to narrow digital divide in infrastructure? ›

How to Reduce the Digital Divide
  1. Increased Connectivity. ...
  2. Better Digital Literacy. ...
  3. Affordable, Equitable Access. ...
  4. Invest in Digital Education. ...
  5. Devise Locally Appropriate, Public-Private Solutions. ...
  6. Develop Stronger Broadband Infrastructure.

Which project works to reduce the digital divide? ›

Close the Gap is an international social enterprise that aims to bridge the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned IT devices donated by European companies to educational, medical and social projects in developing and emerging countries.

What are 4 examples of digital divide? ›

Causes and Examples of the Digital Divide

Factors such as low literacy and income levels, geographical restrictions, lack of motivation to use technology, lack of physical access to technology, and digital illiteracy contribute to the digital divide.

What are 4 factors of digital divide? ›

There are at least three factors at play: information accessibility, information utilization, and information receptiveness. More than just accessibility, the digital divide consists on society's lack of knowledge on how to make use of the information and communication tools once they exist within a community.

What are the four principles of digital divide? ›

Here are the four principles recognised as possible solutions to the digital divide: economic equality, social mobility, economic growth and democratic organisation.

What is the most important in digital divide? ›

The digital divide prevents connection.

Without broadband access and reliable internet connectivity, people have far less of an ability to connect with others than the rest of the world.

Who is affected by digital divide? ›

The digital divide is the gap between those who have access to technology, the internet and digital literacy training and those who do not. It affects all generations – both rural and urban communities – as well as a wide variety of industries and sectors.

Which technology has become the preferred platform for bridging the digital divide in the developing world why is this? ›

Today, SMS applications are the most common way used in the developing World to provide eServices. People, knowing the phone number associated with the service, send an SMS to this number with appropriate keywords, and get back the answer by SMS.

What are the challenges and barriers for bridging the digital divide? ›

The lack of skill in using computer and communication technology also prevents people from accessing digital information. Poor access to computer and communication technology also causes a digital divide. In India the ability to purchase or rent the tool for access to digital information is less among the masses.

What is bridging the divide? ›

Bridge the Divide is an international political organization aimed at establishing dialogue among teenagers of differing ideological views to openly and freely converse. The organization was launched in the wake of increasing political divisiveness both within the United States and abroad.

What are the two sides of the digital divide? ›

Dr Aubrey-Smith was drawing on research, including the Addressing the deepening digital divide report (OUP, 2021), which found the digital divide had two core elements: a lack of physical access to technology and a lack of digital skills in both learners and teachers.

How can poor infrastructure hold a country back? ›

When these infrastructures are not operating properly, the chain of production is disrupted. This disruption hinders development, which causes economic deficit and, in turn, brings low standards of living.

What are pillars of e readiness? ›

These include e-commerce strategies, information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, payment solutions, trade facilitation and logistics, legal and regulatory frameworks, skills development and access to finance.

What are the four step iterative process in digital government transformation? ›

Plan, execute, learn and repeat. Marketing organizations must devise and commit to a process to achieve true martech enablement.

What is the best example of the digital divide? ›

Infrastructure divide: The lack of modern infrastructures in different regions plays a big part in the digital divide. For example, rural communities often lack access to high-speed internet and other telecommunications services in their towns and communities.

What development has helped to narrow the digital divide? ›

Stratification on the global level is often seen as a divide of ______ and ______. What development has helped to narrow the digital divide? by the rising accessibility of simple smartphones, laptops and tablets. In what sector of the global paid-labor market are women most heavily employed?

Which concept is the digital divide? ›

The digital divide describes the gap between people who have access to affordable, reliable internet service (and the skills and gadgets necessary to take advantage of that access) and those who lack it.

What are at least 3 implications of digital divide? ›

  • Lack of communication and isolation. ...
  • Barrier to studies and knowledge. ...
  • Accentuates social differences. ...
  • Gender discrimination. ...

What are the five dimensions of digital divide? ›

The digital divide depends on five factors that determine the level of equality of access to information technology systems: 1) the existence of physical infrastructure for transmission; 2) the availability of connection equipment such as a computer, modem, and access line; 3) training in the use of the computers and ...

What are the negative effects of the digital divide? ›

Disadvantages of the Digital Divide

The digital divide has an overall negative impact on the economy and deepens income inequality. Without digital skills and knowledge of advanced technologies, citizens are unable to progress in their careers and contribute less to the country's economy.

What are the 4 dimensions of digital transformation? ›

Creating a digital footprint is the first of four dimensions of digital transformation, the others include efficiency, effectiveness, and transformation.

Does digital divide exist in America? ›

Yet, despite the importance of this technology—and the many federal programs designed to improve access to it—millions of Americans either don't have broadband available to them or can't afford to pay for it. The gap between those with and without access to broadband has become known as the “digital divide."

Who is most likely to be negatively impacted by the digital divide? ›

The digital divide also disproportionately affects Native American, Black, and Latinx students. Rural communities face educational disadvantages due to the limited availability of broadband internet access.

What are the benefits of closing the digital divide? ›

The benefits of closing the global digital divide include fostering economic growth, individual success, and better social relations. Without equal access to digital technology, developing countries, underserved communities, and rural areas may not be able to catch up to these advances.

What are the four technologies that drive digital transformation? ›

For Digital Transformation, Siebel highlights 4 core technologies:
  • Cloud Computing.
  • Big Data.
  • AI.
  • IoT.
Jan 5, 2020

What country has the biggest digital divide? ›

As the largest developing country in the world, China faces a severe digital divide, which exists not only between Mainland China and the developed countries, but also among its own regions and social groups.

How can we bridge the digital divide for an inclusive digital economy? ›

Solutions to bridging the digital divide

Government should support ICT innovations from startups by creating an enabling environment for them to thrive. Government should partner with device manufacturers to produce affordable ICT devices and reduce internet access costs. Big Technology companies make a lot of profits.

What are the 5 barriers to effective digital transformation? ›

Why is it so hard? And what's the secret to getting big companies to transform successfully? There are five main barriers that large enterprises face when trying to innovate: change resistance, knowledge of customers, risk management, organizational agility and transformation vision. Change is uncomfortable.

What are the main barriers to digital transformation? ›

Lack of Expertise to Lead Digitization Initiatives. Organizational Structure. Lack of Overall Digitization Strategy. Limited Budget.

What are some barriers to achieving digital equity globally? ›

The Gaps in Digital Equity
  • Lack of digital access. Millions of people around the world do not have access to the internet. ...
  • Digital literacy. ...
  • Social and economic disparities. ...
  • Gender disparities. ...
  • Age discrimination. ...
  • Increasing access to technology. ...
  • Improving digital literacy. ...
  • Reducing social and economic disparities.
Sep 4, 2022

What are the bridging strategies? ›

Bridging strategy is the concept of strategically managing public relations by building a connection between an organization and its publics.

What is an example of bridging strategy? ›

Bridging to 10 is a method of adding two numbers that have an answer larger than 10. Count up to 10 and then add on the remainder. For example, to work out 7 + 4, firstly do 7 + 3 = 10 and then add the remainder of 1 to make 11.

What are the three stages of the digital divide? ›

Nielsen has suggested that the digital divide consists of three stages (economic, usability, and empowerment), of which the economic stage is virtually solved.

What are the three dimensions of digital divide? ›

1st dimension divides: the physical and material barriers to participation. 2nd dimension barriers: the educational and training barriers to participation. 3rd dimension barriers: the differences in levels of participation.

What is bridging the digital divide to engage students in higher education? ›

'Bridging the Digital Divide to Engage Students in Higher Education' is an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, sponsored by Microsoft Higher Education, that explores the impact of the new higher education paradigm spurred by covid-19 on teaching and learning experiences, engagement, performance, and value.

What is an example of the digital divide? ›

Causes and Examples of the Digital Divide

Factors such as low literacy and income levels, geographical restrictions, lack of motivation to use technology, lack of physical access to technology, and digital illiteracy contribute to the digital divide.

How can we increase digital literacy? ›

Here are three steps you can take to improve your digital literacy:
  1. You shouldn't be afraid of trying new things using technology. When you experiment with digital tools you build confidence in your abilities.
  2. Take an online course. ...
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

What are the six practical strategies for teaching across the digital divide? ›

We will be discussing 6 strategies that can be implemented when teaching across the digital divide.
  • Use Technology That Is Available On Campus. ...
  • Use A Survey To Find Out What Your Students Have Access To. ...
  • Be Creative. ...
  • Focus On Digital Literacy. ...
  • Work With The Community. ...
  • Concluding Thoughts.
Aug 18, 2022

Which strategy can be most effective in a digital classroom? ›

5 strategies for the digital classroom
  • Focus on the learning progression. ...
  • Plan and seek to develop all components of ICT capability. ...
  • Plan the incorporation of ICT activities in Learning activities. ...
  • Build on a child's use of ICT at home. ...
  • Stimulate and Structure ICT Learning.
Jan 9, 2021

How can technology and education help reduce inequality? ›

Here are just some of the ways technology can be used to support and engage disadvantaged pupils:
  1. Technology can help identify failing students. ...
  2. Technology can help meet the needs of struggling students. ...
  3. Technology provides universal access to the latest resources. ...
  4. Technology can help identify the emotional needs of pupils.

What is bridging technique in education? ›

In the bridging pattern, educators encourage students to maintain their ethnic identity, and teaching-learning strategies are modified to meet the cultural needs of students.

What is bridging the generation gap in education? ›

Bridging the generational gap is about many things other than what makes us different. It is about being open to learning and understanding why these differences exist. It is about changing the mindset for which we were traditionally taught to view work and exploring new ways to communicate with others.

What factors contribute to the digital divide? ›

There are at least three factors at play: information accessibility, information utilization, and information receptiveness. More than just accessibility, the digital divide consists on society's lack of knowledge on how to make use of the information and communication tools once they exist within a community.

What is the best example of digital divide? ›

Examples of the Digital Divide
  • Infrastructure divide: The lack of modern infrastructures in different regions plays a big part in the digital divide. ...
  • Wealth and income divide: Like the infrastructure of different regions, wealth and income play determinative roles in people's access to ICT.
Feb 28, 2023

What are the 3 main skills of digital literacy? ›

There are three main types of skills within digital literacy. These are consuming skills, creating skills, and communicating skills.

What are the six core skills of digital literacy? ›

It is made up of six Competencies – Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Learning to Learn, Communication, Collaboration and Social Responsibilities.

What are the 8 components of digital literacy? ›

Digital literacy's 8 elements are: Cognitive, Confident, Cultural, Constructive, Communicative, Civic, Critical, and Creative. They define the many cyber literacy facets, including comprehension, expectations, the digital culture, netiquette, and more. They're based on Dr. Doug Belshaw's model and thesis.


1. We CAN bridge the digital divide even without digital infrastructure.
2. Bridging the Digital Divide: An Economic Imperative for the 21st Century
3. WS 30 - Bridging the Digital Divide
(World Health Summit)
4. Bridging the Digital Divide
(U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center)
5. Bridging the Digital Divide
(Genetic Alliance)
6. Bridging the Digital Divide: A Gendered Perspective
(Global Peace and Prosperity Forum)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated: 27/08/2023

Views: 6703

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.