Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Digital Divide Articles

Digital Divide/Equity Articles, Wireless Networks,
Dewayne Hendricks, Indian Reservation & Computers

Digital Divide

2013 The digital divide isn't about "access" to computers anymore, but instead about using computers for productivity, employment, education, and enrichment. There is a gender gap in tech and the new skills-based digital divide.

One-third of U.S. households lack broadband Web access
". . .a new telecommunications administration report, Digital Nation 2010, says that about one-third of U.S. households still lack a
broadband internet connection. Furthermore, 5% to 10% of Americans only have access to internet services that are too slow to even support a basic set of online functions, such as downloading Web pages, photos or video." Interactive National Broadband Map

The Connect America Fund hopes to give rural Americans broadband access, bridging the "digital divide". Sweet land of subsidy

Rural broadband access could be key to economic development

New Research Shows Digital Divide Still Persists in the U.S.

Exploring the Digital Nation-Computer and Internet Use at Home [pdf]

Connecting America

A Brief History of the Rural Electric and Telephone Programs pdf
Industry lobbying keeps public in the dark about broadband
2010 The government is spending up to $350 million of taxpayer money to create a map that will show where there is high-speed Internet service in the United States and where there is not. Despite the large expenditure of taxpayer funds, it will display no information on price or subscriber numbers. Internet connection speeds will be averaged over an entire metropolitan area and an as-yet unknown portion of the data collected to make the map will be off-limits to the public. And in an odd twist, state grantees getting paid to collect the information are expected to get some of their data from the Federal Communications Commission, begging the question - why not require the FCC to create the map and save $350 million? The mapping program is being paid for by the Obama administration's 2009 stimulus package, which includes $7.2 billion for broadband projects. The text of the plan, though, comes from a different piece of legislation: the Broadband Data Improvement Act, a 2008 law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Republican president, George W. Bush.The lack of a requirement for robust, public data in the legislation is no accident. It is a testament to the lobbying power of the nation's providers of high-speed Internet service, which for the past decade have stifled government efforts to collect and make public data that could help the nation determine the width and depth of the so-called digital divide.

Kathy Baron, a reporter for KQED, did this story about Digital Equity

The Analog Divide: Technology Practices in Public Education. Computers & Society 31 (3):22-31. by Torin Monahan 2001
This article develops the concept of “the analog divide” to account for social inequities that persist even with access to information technology. I follow the design of technological infrastructures at one Los Angeles public high school to demonstrate the many non-technical efforts needed to make computers “work” for students. Finally, I suggest some ways to bridge analog divides through flexible designs of educational spaces.

Internet, Crystal Radios, Online Curriculum, 802.11

Dave Hughs Delivers Universal Net Access

The Importance of Crafting Culturally Relevant Content by Karen Ellis 2001
As more and more classrooms are wired, the Internet provides teachers a new gateway to relevant, diverse and engaging content. The CyberPlayGround portal offers an interdisciplinary guide to using the Internet to deliver online curriculum. It provides comprehensive learning resources for different cultural and ethnic groups, and also for those with different approaches to learning. See Benton Foundation

Testimony To Committee On Education And The Workforce House Of Representatives By Diane Ravitch April 14, 1999

Computers for Youth seeks to provide refurbished computers, training, support, and online content for those who cannot afford to obtain these tools and resources on their own.

Computers for Learning

On the Sidelines H-1B leaves minority workers on sidelines, groups say 10/19/ 2000
William Kramer didn't want to blame racial prejudice for his failure to find an engineering job. But after a year of job hunting in Silicon Valley's booming economy, he began to wonder what was going on.


The Dandin Group's Dewayne Hendricks is setting up a wireless network at Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation that could be a model of the kind of network he wants--one that may have to circumvent FCC regulations on frequency, power, and transmission technology to deliver high-performance broadband. Complaints or blockage attempts by the FCC may be negated if the tribe asserts its Native American sovereignty; more importantly, Hendricks hopes it will put public pressure on the FCC to open up the spectrum. The FCC is concerned that unlicensed access to the full spectrum would give rise to too much transmission interference. Hendricks is convinced that spread spectrum technology will make a common-use spectrum workable, with technologies such as ultrawideband and dense-packet networks shoring things up if spread spectrum comes up short. So far, Hendricks' team has set up wireless connections for Turtle Mountain Community College and a small group of other buildings. Turtle Mountain is one of four reservations whose colleges are being equipped for wireless as part of a $6 million National Science Foundation initiative administered by EDUCAUSE. (Wired, January 2002)

Dewayne Hendricks, CEO of Dandin Group Wireless Device Bill of Rights

Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Delivers an Apology 2000

The High Performance Research and Education Network (HPWREN)

is overcoming geographical, social and technical barriers to bring high-speed Internet access to the La Jolla and Pala tribes.
In remote San Diego County, HPWREN's 45Mbps (million bits per second) wireless backbone connects the low-lying San Diego coastline with the county's mountainous eastern region, home of the La Jolla and Pala Native American reservations. This outreach is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of an experimental wireless network that also links UCSD with the Mount Laguna Observatory (operated by San Diego State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), an earthquake-detection site (run by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of UCSD), and two large ecological reserves with multiple field stations. UCSD received a $2.3 million NSF award in August 2000 to create, demonstrate and evaluate the prototype wide-area network for research and education.

Connecting the Native American communities posed special challenges for the team led by computer scientist Hans-Werner Braun and geophysicist Frank Vernon of UCSD. Foremost among these is the rugged terrain where the reservations are located - ranging from valleys with elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level to mountain peaks at 5,000 feet. "There are no line-of-sight views of existing microwave towers from the sites," Braun said. "And in the case of La Jolla, we didn't even have access to electric grid power on the mountain ridge edge of the reservation."

That necessity prompted HPWREN staff to design a system of solar arrays and batteries for beaming digital signals where land--based lines aren't practical. After first testing the solar setup last fall, the team deployed it in December on Palomar Mountain, which looms above the La Jolla reservation.

La Jolla tribal members worked closely with the HPWREN team to prepare the solar-powered system and antennae that would provide the reservation's learning center with high-speed Internet connectivity. Now young and old alike gather in the La Jolla and Pala learning centers to surf the Internet at lightning speed.

"The UC San Diego collaboration with La Jolla provides an opportunity for our learning center to receive access to technology and capabilities that we otherwise would not have in our remote county area," said Jack Musick, La Jolla tribal chairman. "We look forward to building educational programs that allow children and adults to take advantage of the connectivity."

The project is exciting, Braun said, "because it's an interdisciplinary effort to design a network that -- though experimental -- is robust enough to be relied upon by researchers under even very adverse conditions, including catastrophic earthquakes. HPWREN is developing such a system for geophysicists, astronomers and ecologists, while demonstrating that the same tools can connect under-served educational users at remote locations like the Pala and La Jolla reservations."

Details and photos about a variety of projects

* SDSU Field Station Programs Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, a Swissbotanist studies Southern California wildlife using an HPWREN connected camera. In addition, more than 50 research projects are being conducted at
the reserve, including threatened and endangered species, water quality and public health, agriculture, and global change.

* HPWREN researchers wrote and implemented software that uses SIO's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics existing seismic sensor network to relay real-time data to client computers. The objective is to provide notice prior
to actual shockwave arrival at the client machine, as well as analyzed information within a minute or so following an event.

* California Department of Forestry firefighters demonstrated a rapid responsemobile wireless access point via a relay using tripod-mounted antennas. The connectivity originated from the HPWREN 45 Mbps backbone and
demonstrated how high-speed access to a network from an incident management site can provide firefighters with data about an incident.

Clinton Hopes to Raise Indian Internet Use By MARC LACEY SHIPROCK, N.M., April 17 2000
Moved by the story of a young American Indian girl who won a free computer but lacked a telephone to hook it up to the Internet, President Clinton today announced a program to offer low-cost phone service on the nation's Indian reservations as a first step toward integrating American Indians into the information age. Mr. Clinton introduced the $17 million initiative, to be financed by an assessment on long-distance companies, at the start of a two-day tour intended to focus attention on the people and places left behind by the computer revolution.

Indian Affairs Head Makes Apology September 8, 2000
Remarks of Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary,
Indian Affairs Department of the Interior at the Ceremony Acknowledging the 175th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

On behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I extend this formal apology to Indian people for the historical conduct of this
agency. And while the BIA employees of today did not commit these wrongs, we acknowledge that the institution we serve did. We accept this inheritance, this legacy of racism and inhumanity. And by accepting this legacy, we accept also the moral responsibility of putting things right.

Karen Buller of the National Indian Telecommunications Institute (, an organization concerned with infrastructure, economic development and sovereignty development of the Native American nations, discussed her surprise at how readily Native American communities adopted the Internet and high-level applications. "When I first started working in telecommunications I thought it would be like giving vitamins trying to get Native Americans on the Internet, but it wasn't like that at all." Ms. Buller found Internet connectivity is important to Native Americans because it supplies a number of culturally relevant applications. Advanced applications have provided the ability to address language preservation for example. Dakota Language homepage HTML-literacy allows Native Americans to define themselves as authors and to control how their culture is presented. Other successes that take into account the needs of Native Americans are the increased use of wireless technologies, an increase in Native American-owned phone companies, the growth of Native American "policy wonks" and "techies." The Internet has also been used as a community-building tool. It is used by churches to reach remote parishioners, AA meetings, the preservation of oral tradition through advanced applications, and the sale of products demonstrates how the Internet can be seen and used by an informed community.

Native American Public Telecommunications

On the South Pacific island of Pago Pago, Pago Pago Elementary puts on fundraising variety shows each year. To date the shows have paid off: a public address system and plans for a new fountain. But the school's latest addition, 25 high speed computes weren't had for a song. The computers, hooked by satellite to a high-speed line in Hawaii, were financed by a $4 million grant from the E-rate program. In its third year, the program has helped connect a variety of schools from Pago Pago to Aniak Alaska, making stops at all points in between. Nearly $4 billion has been awarded to schools and libraries in the United States and in territories like Puerto Rico and Samoa. At the end of last year, 95 percent of the nation's public schools had at least one site with Internet access, and 63 percent of all classrooms had been wired, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the program. For all of the successes of providing hardware and access, appropriate classroom use remains an issue. "To date, there is no curriculum or lesson plan teachers can follow," Ms. Bowles-Weilenman said. But the success of the of the program is hard to argue. Once threatened by Republican lawmakers, the program is no longer a point of debate. Both Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush have incorporated the program into the election platform. "It's hard to attack success," said William E. Kennard, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Feds Earmark $12.M to Bridge Digital Divide January 6, 2000
Mary Hillebrand -- E-Commerce Times,
The recently renames "Technology Opportunities Program" is a federally sponsored grant provider for local governments and nonprofit organizations who develop programs designed to combat the digital divide. The deadline for applying for these funds is March 16, 2000.

"Let's Conquer the Divide" by Jaron Lanier (Jaron coined the term Virtual Reality)
"Future generations are going to judge us by whether we can rise to meet the challenges of Information Age poverty. There are no excuses. America is in an undisputed leadership position on the world stage, and there is no question that our wealth abounds. We believe that capitalism is not a zero-sum game, that wealth begets more wealth. Therefore, moral imperatives aside, it should be in all our interests to find a way to alleviate the suffering of those who haven't yet benefited from the boom times...."

Assistant Secretary Rohde delivered testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on the digital divide in rural America and efforts to ensure that viewers in small and rural markets have access to local broadcast programming. [SOURCE: NTIA]