The internet has become so much a part of our lives that we take it for granted. But, as the COVID pandemic has so amply demonstrated, broadband is not just a fun feature of twenty-first century living: it is a vital service that has kept the economy going, connected people in isolation, and even saved lives.
That’s why, on June 20, we will be celebrating World Wi-Fi Day: a global platform to recognize the fundamental role Wi-Fi plays in our lives, together with a series of initiatives to connect the four billion people worldwide who continue to lack basic connectivity. To find out more about the day, the programs it supports, and how you can get involved, read on!
HOPE for Connectivity
Organized by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) under the leadership of the Connected City Advisory Board (CCAB), World Wi-Fi day seeks to coordinate the efforts of cities, government bodies, fixed and mobile operators, technology vendors, and internet companies to bridge the digital divide that continues to exist in the world.
To that end, it has launched its HOPE for Connectivity Charter to encourage and coordinate efforts coming from both the public and private sectors. The charter contains four key aims:
- Help: Fund and support Wi-Fi deployments for underserved and unconnected communities.
- Offer: Access to more affordable internet through public Wi-Fi networks.
- Promote: Promote current Wi-Fi initiatives of both industry and governments to connect the unconnected.
- Engage: Engage to recognize the role of Wi-Fi in addressing the digital divide.
“The digital divide is growing, and not just in developing countries – there is also an increase in the under-served ‘urban unconnected’ in the world’s largest economies,” says Reza Jafari, Vice Chair of CCAB. “We are delighted that some of the biggest influencers within the industry ecosystem are participating and supporting World Wi-Fi Day – their support demonstrates just how important it is to address this critical issue.”
Putting it Into Practice
But what does this mean in action? A few examples:
- During the pandemic, Mediacom Communications has doubled the number of K-12 student families receiving low-cost internet in their homes. Thanks to the initiative, more than 2,000 families across the U.S. are able to access educational platforms and stay connected to school.
- In addition to over $100 million in public service advertising to help prevent the spread of COVID, the member companies of Internet and Television Association (NCTA) are opening Wi-FI hotspots, pausing data plans, and expanding access for low-income families.
- Thanks to the Federal Communication Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, some 800 companies and associations have promised to keep households connected during the pandemic, waiving late fees and opening hotspots. The FCC is also working to keep us connected through a series of other initiatives, including a $200 million telehealth program, granting additional spectrum, maintaining connectivity in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, tribal reservations, and more.
World Wi-Fi day is not just for governments and multinational institutions – there is a whole host of ways for the rest of us to get involved, as well. Through activities such as sharing a video in support of the day to helping fund a project to bring connectivity to an underserved community, each one of us can participate in reducing the digital divide and connecting the unconnected. As the world weathers an unprecedented health crisis, keeping people informed, educated, and in communication has never been more important.
Let’s ensure our elected officials know how important it is for everyone in America to have quality, dependable broadband access. To sign our petition, click here.