Broadband Internet access is becoming more and more important to the lives of people all over the world. As of August, 2015 there were over 3,179,035,200 Internet users in 190 countries accessing the world wide web for a number of reasons, providing entertainment, communication, access to vital services, and education for users everywhere. The Internet’s increasing importance in our daily lives has led many to believe that Broadband Internet is a utility as vital to public infrastructure as public water, sewer, gas and electric power.
Broadband Internet access offers many benefits, both to individuals and society as a whole. Put another way, benefits to the individual improve quality of life, while benefits to society enhance quality of place. Today we’ll take a look at the individual benefits, and save the societal advantages for next week.
Individual Benefits of Broadband Internet
- Home Entertainment and Connectivity. We have all become used to having the world at out fingertips. Look up a recipe, the latest stock information, video chat, stream a movie or music, automate your home, play interactive on-line games – it’s Broadband internet that makes it all possible.
- Work from Anywhere. Senator Angus King said recently that “For the first time in history people can work where they live instead of living where they work” because of broadband Internet. Fast access to the Internet makes it possible for professionals in marketing, finance, design, customer care, programming, and a number of other computer based fields to work from home, giving these individuals a chance to live where they want and eliminate commuting time.
- Distance Learning. Educational and enrichment opportunities for every age group are quickly becoming the norm as colleges, adult education programs and even virtual elementary schools emerge.
- K-12 Education. Aside from the obvious access to information for study, children AND their parents can always be engaged with the educational process through educational web portals that provide an interface to communicate with teachers and administrators, real time access to assignments and grades, and numerous educational resources.
- Health Care. Telemedicine has made advances that allow for digital transfer of information that once required traditional telephone technology. Today, an Internet connection allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations using telecommunications technology. Telemedicine allows patients in remote locations to access medical expertise quickly, efficiently and without travel.
- Senior Citizens and People with Disabilities. Aging in place independent living are 2 primary concerns for this population. The most affordable home automation products are cloud based and Internet-dependent. A wide array of products from voice activated devices to monitoring systems to panic alarms, can have a profound impact on quality of life for senior citizens, the disabled, AND the people who care for them.
At this point, one could argue that society indirectly profits from individuals’ access to broadband Internet. Next week we’ll look at some direct societal benefits.