Advertisement

Education and Information Technologies

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 3803–3821 | Cite as

Wirelessly bridging the homework gap: Technical options and social challenges in getting broadband to disconnected students

  • Bianca C. ReisdorfEmail author
  • Aleksandr Yankelevich
  • Mitch Shapiro
  • William H. Dutton
Article

Abstract

As many as three million households with school-aged children in the United States do not have any Internet service at home, and 18% do not have a broadband connection, creating a “homework gap” between those who can access the Internet to support their schoolwork at home, and those who cannot. Based on a series of empirical case studies of efforts to develop wireless projects across the United States, coupled with a review of relevant spectrum and wireless regulations, this study informs academics and practitioners how different wireless broadband technologies can help bridge the gap. However, as our case studies show, wireless should not be viewed as a magic bullet to solving the homework gap. Closing this gap requires social initiatives to promote uptake and productivity enhancing usage and skills levels, and financial and regulatory support from policymakers and other stakeholders.

Keywords

Homework gap Digital divide Digital inequalities Wireless technology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Merit, the Quilt, and Rocket Fiber for their support of this project. We are particularly grateful to Joseph Sawasky, the President and CEO of Merit, and Joanna Young, the former CIO and VP of Michigan State University, for encouraging and supporting the Quello Center to engage in this research. We are grateful to all participants across the two studies that we built our analysis on in this paper. We are indebted to Derek Murphy, who was crucial in conducting interviews with stakeholders across various organizations in this study.

References

  1. Ackerberg, D. A., DeRemer, D. R., Riordan, M. H., Rosston, G. L., & Wimmer, B. S. (2014). Estimating the impact of low-income universal service programs. International Journal of Industrial Organization, 37, 84–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bulman, G. & Fairlie, R. W. (2016). Technology and education: Computers, software, and the internet (No. w22237). National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  3. Czernich, N., Falck, O., Kretschmer, T., & Woessmann, L. (2011). Broadband infrastructure and economic growth. The Economic Journal, 121(552), 505–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deming, D. J., Lovenheim, M., & Patterson, R. W. (2016). The Competitive Effects of Online Education (No. w22749). National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  5. Dutton, W. H., & Reisdorf, B. C. (2019). Cultural divides and digital inequalities: attitudes shaping Internet and social media divides. Information, Communication & Society, 22(1), 18-38.Google Scholar
  6. Escueta, M., Quan, V., Nickow, A. J., & Oreopoulos, P. (2017). Education technology: an evidence-based review (No. w23744). National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  7. Federal Communications Commission (2003). “Amendments of Parts 1, 21, 73, 74 and 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Facilitate the Provision of Fixed and Mobile Broadband Access, Educational and Other Advanced Services in the 2150–2162 and 2500–2690 MHz Bands et al.” Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Memorandum Opinion and Order in WT Docket No. 03–66, RM-10586, et al. Adopted Mar. 13, 2003. Released Apr. 2, 2003. Available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-56A4.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  8. Federal Communications Commission (2004). “Amendments of Parts 1, 21, 73, 74 and 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Facilitate the Provision of Fixed and Mobile Broadband Access, Educational and Other Advanced Services in the 2150–2162 and 2500–2690 MHz Bands et al.” Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WT Docket No. 03–66, RM-10586, et al. Adopted Jun. 10, 2004. Released Jul. 29, 2004. Available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-135A1.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  9. Federal Communications Commission (2011). “Connect America Fund, et al.” Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket No. 10–90 et al. Adopted Oct. 27, 2011. Released Nov. 18, 2011. Available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-11-161A1.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  10. Federal Communications Commission (2014). “Policies Regarding Mobile Spectrum Holdings et al.” Report and Order in WT Docket No. 12–269 et al. Adopted May 15, 2014. Released Jun. 2, 2014. Available at https://www.fcc.gov/document/mobile-spectrum-holdings-report-and-order. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  11. Federal Communications Commission (2016a). “Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization; Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support; Connect America Fund.” Third Report and Order, Further Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration in WC Docket Nos. 11–42, 09–197, 10–90. Adopted Mar. 31, 2016. Released Apr. 27, 2016. Available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-38A1.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  12. Federal Communications Commission (2016b). “Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Comment on Petitions Regarding Off-Campus Use of Existing E-Rate Supported Connectivity.” Public Notice in CC Docket No. 02–6; WC Docket Nos. 10–90, 13–184. Released Sep. 19, 2016. Available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-1051A1.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  13. Federal Communications Commission (2016c). “Implementation of Section 6002(b) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions With Respect to Mobile Wireless, Including Commercial Mobile Services.” Nineteenth Report in WT Docket No. 16–137. Adopted Sep. 23, 2016. Released Sep. 23, 2016. Available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-1061A1.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  14. Federal Communications Commission (2018). “Amendements of Parts 1, 21, 73, 74, and 101 of the Commission's Rules to Facilitate the Provision of Fixed and Mobile Broadband Access, Educational and Other Advanced Services in the 2150–2162 and 2500–2690 MHz Bands; Transforming the 2.5 Ghz Band.” Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WT Docket Nos. 03–66, 18–120. Adopted May 10, 2018. Released May 10, 2018. Available at https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-seeks-transform-25-ghz-band-nextgen-5g-connectivity. Accessed 14 June 2019.
  15. Federal Communications Commission (2019). Auction 102: Spectrum Frontiers – 24 GHz. Fact Sheet. Available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/102/factsheet. Accessed 14 June 2019
  16. Federal Communications Commission (n.d. a). Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (E-Rate). Available at https://www.fcc.gov/general/universal-service-program-schools-and-libraries-e-rate. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  17. Federal Communications Commission (n.d. b). Universal Service. Available at https://www.fcc.gov/general/universal-service. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  18. Fernandez, L., Reisdorf, B. C., & Dutton, W. H. (2019). Urban Internet myths and Realities: A Detroit case study. Information, Communication & Society, 1-22.Google Scholar
  19. Gigabit Libraries Network (n.d.). About. Available at http://www.giglibraries.net/about. Accessed 13 Oct 2018.
  20. Goodman, J., Melkers, J., & Pallais, A. (2016). Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education? (No. w22754). National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  21. Government Accountability Office (2017). Telecommunications: Additional action needed to address significant risks in FCC’s lifeline program. Report to congressional requesters (GAO-17-538). Released May 2017. Available at https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/684974.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2018.
  22. Haythornthwaite, C., & Kendall, L. (2010). Internet and community. American Behavioral Scientist, 58, 1083–1094.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Helsper, E. (2011). The Emergence of a Digital Underclass: Digital Policies in the UK and Evidence for Inclusion. Available at http://www.lse.ac.uk/media%40lse/documents/MPP/LSEMPPBrief3.pdf. Accessed 20 Nov 2018.
  24. Helsper, E. J., & Eynon, R. (2013). Distinct skill pathways to digital engagement. European Journal of Communication, 28(6), 696–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Holt, L., & Galligan, M. (2013). Mapping the field: Retrospective of the Federal Universal Service Programs. Telecommunications Policy, 37(9), 773–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kandilov, I. T., & Renkow, M. (2010). Infrastructure investment and rural economic development: An evaluation of USDA's broadband loan program. Growth and Change, 41(2), 165–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McConnell, C. & Straubhaar, J. (2016). Why the institutional access digital divide might be more significant than the home broadband divide. In Handbook of Research on comparative approaches to the digital age revolution in Europe and the Americas (pp. 56–75). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.Google Scholar
  28. Melia, M., Amy, J. & Fenn, L. (2019). AP: 3 million US students don’t have home Internet. Available at https://apnews.com/7f263b8f7d3a43d6be014f860d5e4132?utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletters&mc_cid=70fea6738c&mc_eid=f761a42f9e. Accessed 13 June 2019.
  29. Microsoft (2017). Mid-Atlantic broadband communities and Microsoft launch new homework network to bring thousands of students online in rural Virginia. Available at https://news.microsoft.com/2017/05/23/mid-atlantic-broadband-communities-and-microsoft-launch-new-homework-network-to-bring-thousands-of-students-online-in-rural-virginia/. Accessed 13 Oct 2018.
  30. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2019). Children's access to and use of the internet. Available at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cch.asp. Accessed 13 June 2019.
  31. Pew Research (2017). Internet/broadband fact sheet. Available at http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/. Accessed 10 Jan 2019.
  32. Prieger, J. E. (2013). The broadband digital divide and the economic benefits of mobile broadband for rural areas. Telecommunications Policy, 37(6), 483–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Prieger, J. E. (2015). The broadband digital divide and the benefits of mobile broadband for minorities. The Journal of Economic Inequality, 13(3), 373–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rainie, L., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked: The new social operating system. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rhinesmith, C. (2016). Digital inclusion and meaningful broadband adoption initiatives. Benton Foundation. Available at https://www.benton.org/sites/default/files/broadbandinclusion.pdf. Accessed 10 Jan 2019.
  36. Rhinesmith, C., & Reisdorf, B. C. (2017). Race and Digital Inequalities: Policy Implications. Working Paper. Available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944205. Accessed 8 Jan 2019.
  37. Reisdorf, B.C., & Groselj, D. (2015). Internet (non-)use types and motivational access: Implications for digital inequalities research. New Media & Society, 19(8), 1157–1176.Google Scholar
  38. Reisdorf, B., Hampton, K., Fernandez, L., & Dutton, W. H. (2018). Broadband to the neighborhood: Digital divides in detroit. Available at SSRN 3103457. Accessed 8 Jan 2019.Google Scholar
  39. Salemink, K., Strijker, D., & Bosworth, G. (2015). Rural development in the digital age: A systematic literature review of unequal ICT availability, adoption, and use in rural areas. Journal of Rural Studies, 54, 360–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shapiro, M., Murphy, D., Yankelevich, A., & Dutton, W.H. (2016). Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access: An Analysis of Cases and Business Strategies. Available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2891778. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  41. Smith, B. (2017). A rural broadband strategy: Connecting rural America to new opportunities. Microsoft blog. Available at https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/07/10/rural-broadband-strategy-connecting-rural-america-new-opportunities/. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  42. Spectrum Bridge (n.d.). Show My White Space. Available at http://whitespaces.spectrumbridge.com/whitespaces/home.aspx. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  43. Sprint Newsroom. (2016) Sprint Continues to Close the Gap in Overall Network Performance. Available at http://newsroom.sprint.com/blogs/sprint-perspectives/sprint-continues-to-close-the-gap-in-overall-network-performance.htm. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.
  44. Turner, S. D. (2016). Digital denied: The impact of systematic racial discrimination on home-internet adoption. Detroit: Free Press. Available at https://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/digital_denied_free_press_report_december_2016.pdf. Accessed 21 Nov 2018.
  45. Ukhaneva, O., (2017). Universal Service in a Wireless World. Working Paper. Georgetown University. Available at https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnx1a2hhbmV2YW9sZ2F8Z3g6MTg3MmY2N2UyZDA3YjY2Yw. Accessed 13 Oct 2018.
  46. Urban Omnibus (2013). Local Connections: The Red Hook WiFi Project. The Architectural League’s Urban Omnibus, The Culture of Citymaking. Available at http://urbanomnibus.net/2013/09/local-connections-the-red-hook-wifi-project/. Accessed 20 Sept 2018.
  47. van Deursen, A. J., van Dijk, J. A., & Peters, O. (2011). Rethinking internet skills: The contribution of gender, age, education, internet experience, and hours online to medium-and content-related internet skills. Poetics, 39(2), 125–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. van Deursen, A. J. A. M., Helsper, E. J., & Eynon, R. (2014). Measuring digital skills: From digital skills to tangible outcomes. Oxford: Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  49. van Dijk, J. A. (2005). The deepening divide: Inequality in the information society. Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  50. van Dijk, J.A.G.M. & van Deursen, A.J.A.M. (2014). Digital skills: Unlocking the information society. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  51. Vigdor, J. L., Ladd, H. F., & Martinez, E. (2014). Scaling the digital divide: Home computer technology and student achievement. Economic Inquiry, 52(3), 1103–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Whitacre, B., & Rhinesmith, C. (2016). Broadband un-adopters. Telecommunications Policy, 40(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yankelevich, A., Shapiro, M., & Dutton, W.H. (2016). Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access: A Regulatory Analysis. Available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2891763. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Federal Communications CommissionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Quello Center, Department of Media and InformationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre, Computer ScienceUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations