The role of optical fiber in the fight against the digital divide

Since 2014, the European Commission has introduced an index called DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) with the aim of monitoring the progress of the digitization of the economy and society in European countries. Italy has also begun its journey to bridge the technological gap, reforming both the Public Administration and encouraging citizens to use digital tools. According to the results highlighted in the DESI 2022 Index, the path that Italy is following is the right one, but there is still a lot of work to do, especially as regards the of connectivity. In this context we can place the theme of the digital divide, let's try to understand together what it is and the contribution made by the fiber.

What is the digital divide

Digital divide, or digital divide, is the term that is used to indicate the inequality in the access and use of digital technologies between different communities, social groups or geographical areas. An inequality that translates as:

  • lack of Internet access,
  • limited ability to use digital technologies,
  • insufficient digital literacy. 

Without a doubt, in recent years, measures have been taken to try to contain the phenomenon and make internet access more inclusive regardless of age, area of ​​origin and level of education. In fact, limited access to the Internet and digital technologies can prevent people from accessing job and education opportunities, benefiting from public services and online resources.

Currently there are some initiatives that seek to reduce the digital divide, such as the provision of affordable Internet access, training programs and technological support, and the implementation of digital infrastructure in rural and remote areas.

It is important to reduce the digital divide because access to digital technologies and an Internet connection have become essential for participating in the economic, social and political life of people and communities. For example, today schools use the Internet and digital technologies to provide education, teaching materials and educational resources to students and teachers, without an adequate connection some people could not use the services offered, being thus creating an inequality with respect to the part which, instead, has the possibility to connect to the network. 

The same scenario would also occur in health or social care, many public services are provided through online platforms, without access to technology, people may struggle to access essential services, which can increase social and economic inequalities. Finally, the most important thing should not be forgotten, namely free access to information, whether it be political or cultural in nature.

Reducing the digital divide is, therefore, important to guarantee social, economic and political inclusiveness, ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities.

Digital divide in Italy

To address the inequalities of the digital divide and encourage the development of innovation and the digital economy, the Italian government has launched various initiatives to promote the spread of broadband at a national level, such as the Piano Nazionale Banda Larga and the Connected Italy Plan

According to data from the Agency for Digital Italy (AgID), at the end of 2020 around 18% of the Italian population did not have access to a broadband connection, while only 56% of Italians had an ultra-broadband connection.

Despite the interventions carried out in recent years for the diffusion of optical fiber, a key factor for the growth of broadband connections in Italy, there is still a significant disparity between the various regions. The regions of Southern Italy, in particular, register a significant gap compared to the regions of the North, with consequent limitations in terms of e-learning, smart working and online purchases.

1 Giga Italy Plan

On July 27, 2021, the Interministerial Committee for Digital Transformation (CiTD) gave the green light to the Intervention Plan "Italy to 1 Giga", the first of a series of public intervention plans envisaged by the Government Strategy for the reduction of the digital divide in Italy. This strategy, which continues the one already started in 2015, aims to eliminate the lack of ultra-broadband network infrastructure still present in Italy and to guarantee by 2026 a fixed network connection speed of at least 1 Gbit/s in download and 200 Mbit/s upload throughout the national territory, ahead of the European targets set for 2030.

The Italy 1 Giga Plan, currently underway, should be completed on a national scale by the first half of 2026, following a precise timetable that will be established in the calls for tenders for each area of ​​intervention. This timetable must be presented to the European Commission, respecting the intermediate deadlines set out in the PNRR. As everyone will remember, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is the strategic plan of investments and reforms launched by the Italian Government in 2021, with the aim of promoting the country's economic and social recovery, supporting the ecological and digital transition, as well as increasing resilience of the Italian socio-economic system.

The networks in FTTH optical fiber and FTTC mixed fiber , which respectively allow navigation up to 1,000 and 200 Mbds, are constantly expanding and more and more families are reached by these technologies. It is therefore important to periodically check your coverage to make sure you can access the Internet with better technology than the one currently in use. 

Find out if your home is covered by Enel Energia Fiber, view the page check coverage, enter your address and in a few seconds you will know which of the fiber offers can be activated. The Enel Fibra offer in FTTH technology allows navigation up to 1 Gbps in upload and 300 Mbps in upload, while Enel Naviga Smart offer in mixed FTTC technology allows speeds of up to 300 Mbps in download and 20 Mbps in upload.

 

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Offer subject to technical speed and geographical limitations. The indicated navigation speed (FTTH) is to be considered as maximum. Check the coverage in the following steps to find out the fiber (FTTH and FTTC) from which your home is reached. The offer does not include Voice Service with consequent possible loss of the landline telephone number in the event of migration of the internet connection.