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Title: Roles of Wireless Networks in Bridging the Rural Smart Infrastructural Divide
The past decade has seen a rise in the availability of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) for developing smart societies and communities. However, the smart divide, characterized by inequalities in ICT infrastructures, software access, and individual capabilities, remains a significant barrier for rural communities. Limited empirical studies exist that explore what and how ICT infrastructures can be developed to bridge the smart divide. The paper aimed to address rural broadband access in the context of infrastructural dimensions of smart divide (i.e., smart infrastructural divide) in the United States, focusing on the wireless network infrastructure’s role in narrowing the gap. It examined the broadband specifications needed for smart applications like smart education and telehealth, emphasizing the importance of wireless network capabilities. While fixed broadband offers higher speeds, wireless networks can support many smart applications with decent flexibility and ease of access. To further understand the implications of wireless broadband to rural communities, we conducted a case study in Carbondale and Cairo, two rural towns in Southern Illinois, using on-site user-inspired speed testing. An Android application was developed to measure download/upload speeds and Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP) for broadband quality. Results suggest both Carbondale and Cairo experienced below-average speeds with high variability among census blocks, which highlights the need for improved wireless network infrastructure. The paper culminated in the technological and policy recommendations to narrow down the smart infrastructural divide.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2122092
NSF-PAR ID:
10473758
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
MDPI
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Infrastructures
Volume:
8
Issue:
11
ISSN:
2412-3811
Page Range / eLocation ID:
159
Subject(s) / Keyword(s):
["smart divide","ICT","broadband","wireless network","digital divide","smart infrastructural divide","southern Illinois"]
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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