What is the Internet? How does it work? Who controls the internet and how? While these might seem like simple questions, but the answers are not easy. Or, rather we are not really bothered to know how does it work or who owns it. We know what the internet is, but defining the Internet isn’t easy.

Defining in a simple way, the Internet is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. Today, we use the Internet for almost everything, and for many people, it would be impossible to imagine life without it. Most importantly, we use the Internet to connect people, communities, and countries around the world.

The Internet has become one of the inevitable parts of our lives that have improved our lives and impacted our lives in many positive ways. The Internet provides access to the information, education, resources, and opportunities, help government improves service delivery and it is crucial in improving country’s economy and development. The access to the internet should be universal, affordable, open and safe.

The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, that states have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available and that states may not unreasonably restrict an individual’s access to the Internet.

According to the World Bank, more than 40 percent of the world’s population has access to the internet, with the number of internet users tripling in the last decade, from 1 billion in 2005 to an estimated 3.2 billion in 2015. 8.8 billion YouTube videos are watched daily. 4.2 billion Google searches are performed every day. Such increased access to Internet provides opportunities that were previously out of reach to the poor and disadvantaged.

Today, people in rural villages are able to gain profits by setting up online businesses, youths are able to learn better with more access to educational resources available worldwide, women are coming out of comfort zone as they felt empowered connecting with other women around the world through the common platform that internet has provided, farmers are able to reap profits be able to connect with the customers and selling their agricultural produce online, and so more.

Therefore, the Internet is a medium to connect rural villages with urban cities creating a global community, an ideal world I would say, as digital divide exists and the gap can be narrowed down by providing equal access to the internet to all irrespective of demographics and regions.

The digital divide typically exists between cities and rural areas; between the educated and the uneducated; between socioeconomic groups; and, globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations. Even among populations with some access to technology, the digital divide can be evident in the form of lower-performance computers, lower-speed wireless connections, lower-priced connections such as dial-up, and limited access to subscription-based content.

Universal access to the Internet has become a top development priority. Getting there requires affordable, reliable access to fast, “always on” broadband networks, one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 9.c). Some countries have even recognized access to broadband as a fundamental human right and in 2011, a key UN commission also declared that broadband access is a basic human right, along with health care, shelter, and food. Hence, in coming days, I believe the challenge would be coming up with the strategy to reduce this digital divide by providing everyone with equal access to internet and technology.

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