The Internet Revolution:

20 years ago Tim Berners Lee, a British engineer, changed the world when he developed a project that would go on to become the 'world wide web' or 'Internet'. Today, the internet and computer usage is well established in many people's everyday lives, particularly in the developed countries. However, every year more people across the world gain access to computers and the internet, resulting in an increase in the number of users that can share and communicate electronically, publishing their own thoughts, values and activities. Social media services such as Facebook and twitter are used by millions of people everyday.

Despite this growing trend less than one-third of the world is currently online. That means for more than 4 billion people the internet is still an unknown. A poll carried out by the BBC in 2010 across 26 different countries and using more than 27,000 respondents, overwhelmingly believed that access to the internet is a fundamental right – 4 out 5 people asked felt this (see link for more detail).

Explore the tables and graphs in the BBC source below to explore this inequality in more detail.

SuperPower: Visualising the internet

Infrastructure:

Many people now feel that access to the internet is a basic human right – however, the reasons for not having access can be complex. Many parts of the developing world do not have adequate and reliable electricity supplies, meaning the electricity required to power computer networks is not available. There is also the issue with connecting. Not having a wired connection such as phone lines is easily overcome in todays 'wireless' and 'mobile phone' urbanised world. But in many of the more rural parts of the world there are no phone masts so using this method is not an option. Satellite phones and internet access remain the only option for many in these areas, but the costs of this kind of connection make it too expensive for many.

Even in the United Kingdom reliable, fast broadband connections are not found universally everywhere for everyone. The House of Lords recently published a paper on its desire to provide 'Broadband for All' and the Government has tried to provide funding to make this a reality. It is increasingly viewed that to ensure there is sustainable economic growth, superfast broadband networks for all parts of the country are essential.

Teacher Notes

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Select Committee Report

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Government Response

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UK Statistics

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