What is the digital divide, and how can we bridge it?

The digital divide has come to the center of attention during the last two years. The pandemic exposed the gaps in internet service with the need to work from home and go to school virtually. As a result, it’s more apparent that the internet has become a must-have for our daily lives. However, many people still don’t have access to high-speed internet, leading to inequality. Because of that, the digital divide is something we are working relentlessly to close. Today, we’ll define the digital divide and how we’re acting to bridge it. 

What is the digital divide?

The digital divide is the gap between those who can use technology and those who cannot. It’s a problem that has been around for years, but it’s come into the spotlight more recently with the pandemic. In addition, the need to suddenly work from home or do virtual school has exposed the gaps in internet service for many people.

The internet has become critical for modern life, but many people still don’t have access to it. An estimated 42 million Americans can’t purchase broadband internet for reasons ranging from financial, geographic, and service limitations. The lack of access to the internet divides society and limits opportunities for those who don’t have the internet. Because of this, we are working relentlessly to close the digital divide, and today we’ll share what it is.

Factors that Impact the Digital Divide

Cost

Internet and computer devices can be expensive, putting them out of reach for many people. As inflation rises, 64% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Extra expenses like high-speed internet can be the difference between food on the table or not. At Race, we offer affordable high-speed internet to help combat the digital divide. 

Race and Ethnicity 

Race can also impact the digital divide. Minorities are more likely to live in poverty, with 25.4% of Native Americans and 20.8% of African Americans living in poverty, nearly doubly the poverty rate of their white neighbors (10.1%). Living in poverty undoubtedly makes it harder to afford internet and computer devices. Additionally, areas of high poverty typically don’t have access to the same quality of education. This lack of quality can often limit a school’s ability to use and teach technology.

Education 

When the pandemic hit and schools went virtual, more than a quarter of K–12 students (29%) lacked reliable internet access in spring 2020, leaving them without a path forward to learn. However, many school districts or parents in higher-income areas were able to provide students with the tools necessary to succeed. Unfortunately, this left a gap in the education in communities that were not well-funded, leading to a less than quality education. We need to ensure everyone has access to quality education and the technology to make it possible. 

Location 

Your location also plays a role in access. Many rural areas of the country still do not have access to high-speed internet. Geographical location played a big part in the problems with accessibility during the pandemic as people who lived in rural areas struggled to work from home or do virtual school. According to the Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults, roughly seven-in-ten rural Americans (72%) say they have a broadband internet connection at home. 

How does it affect society?

The digital divide affects society in several ways. In short, it creates unfairness and limits opportunities for those who don’t have the internet. Let’s explore how it does this further. 

Social Isolation

The divide can lead to social isolation. People without the internet are cut off from communication and information easily accessible to others. 

Limits Job Opportunities

The digital divide has a significant effect on the workplace. In today’s job market, increased computer skill levels are a prerequisite. However, the demand for these skills creates unfairness in society and limits opportunities for those who don’t have them. 

For example, many job applications are online, so you’re already at a disadvantage if you don’t have internet access. In addition, having the money to have a computer with a webcam and high-speed internet to work from home on zoom calls presents a barrier to entry. 

Impacts education 

25% of students lack an adequate internet connection. The lack of access became a glaringly obvious problem during the pandemic when kids across the country moved to virtual learning. Unfortunately, many homes were not set up with the equipment or internet services to make a move to online learning. However, that isn’t the only challenge. Many homework assignments now utilize the internet leaving kids behind who don’t have access. 

What is being done to close the digital divide?

At Race, we’re committed to closing the digital divide and ensuring everyone has access to the internet. We’re doing this by working with government, industry, and community partners to:

  • Increase access to affordable broadband
  • Improve digital literacy
  • Connect people in underserved communities

We know that we can’t close the digital divide alone, so we’re working with our partners. Here are some ways we are working together to bridge the divide. 

California Advanced Services Fund (CASF)

The California Public Utilities Commission has helped bridge the digital divide through the use of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) since 2008. CASF helps bring broadband to underserved and unserved communities throughout California, aiming to close the digital divide. The goal is to close the digital divide by bringing broadband to 98% of households in each consortia region by December 31, 2022. 

Internet Act For All 

The Internet Act For All was reintroduced in the house on 3/11/2021. The act will make high-speed broadband internet service accessible and affordable to all Americans. In addition, the bill will provide discounts on broadband for low-income consumers and subsidize the internet for schools and libraries. The Internet Act for All is a significant step forward to bridge the digital divide. 

Computer Literacy Training 

Many cities, libraries, and companies offer free digital literacy training to bridge the divide. These classes work to give everyone foundational skills that will help achieve equity at school and work closing and is a pivotal part of eliminating the digital divide. 

How Race is Working to Bridge the Digital Divide 

Race is dedicated to providing reliable, accessible, high-speed internet by building new fiber networks and infrastructures. We worked to bring our fiber optic networks to underserved or unserved communities so they can have equal access. 

Race Communications works with the California Public Utilities Commission and other advocacy groups to build new networks in these communities. Race has received California grants to cover up to 60 percent of construction costs, including the labor, equipment, and materials required to bring fiber or cable internet to a region; however, it does not include operational costs. 

Final Thoughts

The digital divide is a problem that has been around for years, but it’s come into the spotlight more recently with the pandemic. The need to work from home and participate in virtual school exposed the gaps in internet service for many people. At Race, we’re working hard to close the digital divide and ensure everyone has access to the internet. Closing the digital divide will create more opportunities and a better society. 

What is Fiber Internet? 

What is Fiber Internet? Is it really that much better than DSL, Cable, or Satellite internet services? Fiber Internet is growing in popularity, and the technology has become the gold standard for fast, reliable, and high-quality internet. In this article, we explore how fiber internet works, its availability, benefits, and more. If you have found yourself asking, “What is Fiber Internet” you’re in the right place. Let’s go! 

What Is Fiber Internet? 

Fiber internet uses cutting-edge light technology to deliver data. Fiber optic cables are used to send information through bursts of light. The light travels much like electricity would through a copper wire, but much faster closer to the speed of light! This type of internet reaches speeds we haven’t been able to achieve with other forms of internet, it is also more reliable. 

what is fiber internet - fiber optic cables

Fiber Optic Cables 

Fiber optic cables set this type of internet apart. Cable internet uses copper wires, but fiber internet uses cables that consist of tiny strands of glass. The strands send data through pulses of light. Fiber cables send data quickly at about 70% of the speed of light. They can also send more data at once than cable, DSL, or Satellite internet. 

Is it available everywhere? 

Fiber is a newer internet technology and is currently not available everywhere. According to the FCC, about 39% of the US has access to fiber internet. That number is going up, but it’s a slow process to bring fiber internet to a city. In order to do so, many steps need to take place, including extensive research, planning, and construction. 

At Race, we understand the importance of bringing Fiber to communities. That is why we are committed to bringing high-quality, affordable internet infrastructure to communities across the state of California. Learn more about our areas of coverage here

what is fiber internet

What are the Benefits?

Greater speeds

Fiber optic cables can allow data to travel at a much higher speed than cable, DSL, or satellite internet. Fiber can reach speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. These speeds are much faster than your average cable internet. A faster connection allows for a better experience, whether you are on an important video meeting or streaming your favorite movie in 4K, higher speeds will create a smooth experience without any troublesome buffering. 

Higher bandwidth 

In today’s world, we are constantly connected. The average American has more than ten connected devices (think of how many phones, computers, TVs are connected in your house). Our super-connected life demands higher bandwidth to handle these devices. Fiber internet can meet these needs and provides up to 1,000 times as much bandwidth as cable internet. 

More Reliable 

Fiber internet is not affected by the weather. Fiber is water-resistant, and temperatures do not affect its performance. It is also less susceptible to power outages or electromagnetic interference because it uses pulses of light instead of electricity to transfer data, unlike cable.

Do I need fiber internet? 

The answer to this question depends on your needs. If you require higher speeds, more bandwidth, and better reliability, then Fiber Internet may be an excellent option for you. However, if you aren’t sure we recommend talking to your internet provider to determine the best option. There are many variables and individual needs vary. If you’re ready to learn more about our internet services, contact our specialists at 877-722-3833 or send us an inquiry. Our team will help you pick the right service for you.  

To learn more about Fiber Vs. Cable Internet read our blog, Fiber or Cable Internet  – Which is Best for You? 

What is Fiber Internet: Key Takeaways 

In summary, fiber internet is an excellent option for today’s homes and businesses alike. Let’s review the key takeaways from this article below: 

  • Fiber internet uses fiber optic cables made of glass strands that send data through light. 
  • Fiber Internet has soaring speeds, and reliable fiber internet can meet modern demands. 
  • Fiber is not available everywhere yet, so check with your local provider to see if it is an option for you. 

If you are interested in learning more, check out our services or contact our specialists at 877-722-3833 to see what we offer in your area! 

How the CASF Is Bridging the Digital Divide

Since 2008 the California Public Utilities Commission has

helped bridged the digital divide through the use of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). This fund has helped bring broadband to underserved and unserved communities throughout the state of California. Since its inception, the program has funded a variety of broadband projects, including several fiber-based, gigabit projects like Gigafy Phelan. These projects aim to close the digital divide, and companies throughout the state continue to apply for further funding. In this article, we’ll explore exactly what the CASF funds are, a brief history of the program, the types of grants available, and how Race uses them to bring high-speed quality internet to communities.

What is the California Advanced Services Fund? 

The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) provides funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure to areas of the state that are unserved or underserved. CASF aims to close the digital divide bringing broadband to 98% of households in each consortia region by December 31, 2022. And they are well on the way to achieving that goal. As of December 31, 2018, 97.1 percent of California households are in census blocks with access to broadband services reaching speeds of 6Mbps down and 1Mbs up or greater. 

Unserved areas are eligible for up to a 70% CASF matching grant. These grants are used for areas without high-speed internet access and often prioritize areas with rugged terrain, making infrastructure development costs too high for companies and investors to fund alone. 

Underserved areas are eligible for 60% CASF matching grants. These areas typically have broadband or internet services but at very slow speeds and do not perform well. The funds allow internet providers to increase speeds to at least 6 Megabits per second download and 1.5mbps upload. 

CASF Map

Above is a map of the consortia regions of the State of California. Source: 2020 Annual CASF Report

CASF: A Brief History 

In December of 2007, the Commission authorized the CASF. The CASF provided grants to telecom corporations to bridge the digital divide and bring high-speed ethernet to California’s unserved and underserved communities. Since then, the program has helped fund over 798 projects and awarded funds totaling over 300 million dollars. 

How Are the Grants Funded?

The CASF initially started as a 23 cents tax collected on phone bills. Currently, CSAF grants are funded by a surcharge rate from revenues collected by telecommunications carriers and remitted to the state.

Types of Grants Available 

Infrastructure, Loan, and Line-Extension Grant

Provides broadband access to households that are within the last miles of existing infrastructure. This includes the line extension program.

Rural and Regional Urban Consortia Grant 

The Rural and Regional Urban Consortia Grant funds the cost of broadband deployment activities. However, the grant doesn’t support any capital costs of the facilities which the Commission determines. 

Tribal Assistance Program

Provides technical assistance in developing market studies, feasibility studies, and business plans which support tribal communities to improve communications. 

How Do You Get a CASF Grant? 

Telecommunication companies have to compete for these grants, and often the way to earn them is through finding the most cost-effective solution to bringing services. To maximize the grant, Race utilizes current and existing utilities and utility easements. This reduces the cost and allows us to create a more extensive infrastructure. For example, if the utilities are all above ground near your home, Race will utilize that existing infrastructure instead of trenching underground utilities to your home. On the other hand, if there are no existing utilities, building above-ground infrastructures is often most cost-effective.

Race Communications - CASF

How does Race Communications use CASF? 

Race Communications has received California grants to cover up to 60 percent of construction costs, including the labor, equipment, and materials required to bring fiber or cable internet to a region. The percent of funding is based on the needs of the area. This funding does not include operational costs (the expenses of day-to-day business).

CASF Key Takeaways: 

  • CASF grants were created to bring broadband internet to both unserved and underserved communities with the goal of 98% of households in each consortia region by 2022. 
  • Race Communications has received CASF grants which cover up to 60% of construction costs and utilize existing utilities to lower infrastructure costs. 
  • Grants are funded by a surcharge rate from revenues that are collected by telecommunications carriers and paid by the end-users

8 Elements that Make the Best Internet for Gaming 

With more than 2.5 billion video gamers around the world, it’s no surprise that we are often asked, “what should I look for to find the best internet for gaming?” The answer to that question is complicated, so today, we’re walking you through eight elements that create the best internet for gaming. These suggestions will help you narrow down providers and find a service that fits your needs. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to find internet solutions that allow you to play on– and smoothly!

1. High-Speed Connections

Slow internet makes for a terrible gaming experience and is definitely not the best internet for gaming. If speeds are slow, you’ll be met with freezing and lagging, which will ruin your game. To improve your gaming experience, you need to have high-speed internet. Ideally, 35 Mbps or higher to help you avoid lag time and latency issues. This will also allow you to communicate in real-time with your friends while gaming. 

2. Check into Latency

You want the best internet for gaming, and latency plays a huge role in this!  Latency is the average time it takes your gaming device to send the data to the game server and then send it back to you. Latency is measured in milliseconds and pings. Pings are how fast you get messages from other players or your gaming server after making your move. The lower your latency, the better. Lower latency allows for smoother gameplay. 20ms – 40 ms is optimal, but anything under 75- 100 ms is acceptable for gaming. You’ll achieve these speeds by investing in high-speed internet combats latency by enabling data to be sent and received quickly. 

3. Low Lag Time 

Lag time is the time difference between your gaming server sending information and your screen displaying it. Essentially, it’s how long it takes to see the commands you input into your controller shown in action on the screen. For optimal gaming, lag time should be to be less than 15ms. High-speed internet plays a role in lag time, but you also need to play on a monitor or TV with a high refresh rate (sometimes referred to as game mode). A screen designed for gaming will maximize your experience by reducing lag time. 

5. Reliability Reins 

When you’re gaming, you want internet that won’t quit! Fiber optic internet is a great option when it comes to reliability. Fiber is composed of tiny glass strands that send data through light. Because of this, it’s less susceptible to power outages and weather extremes that are known to cause loss of connectivity in other types of internet. 

6. Avoid Data Caps

Gaming requires a lot of data. You’re constantly sending and receiving information, and it adds up quickly.  Some internet providers place limits on the amount of data that you can use in a given month. How a provider caps your data can vary, some providers slow down your speeds while others charge you data overages. This isn’t ideal for a gamer! Instead of worrying about data caps, choose an internet provider with unlimited data. 

7. Bandwidth Is Critical 

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data your internet can handle. When you are gaming, high amounts of data are sent over your internet connection. Due to the volume, there’s a demand for plenty of bandwidth to keep up. 

In addition, remember that bandwidth is affected by ALL devices in your home. For example, if you’re gaming and someone else is streaming a movie in the next room over, it can slow down your connection causing a less than stellar gaming session. To combat this, look into fiber internet. Fiber is better suited to handle the demands of a connected home.

8. Hardwired Connections Improve the Experience 

The type of internet and speed will only get you so far searching for the best internet for gaming. You’ll also need to consider how you are plugging into your internet connection. Wifi is highly convenient, but internet speeds are not typically as fast as a hardwired connection. In addition, a lot can affect your wireless connection, such as distance from the router or how many devices are connected to wifi. Connecting your gaming device straight to a dedicated ethernet port can help you maintain fast speeds and eliminate any wifi bandwidth issues. 

Conclusion! Play On and Find the Best Internet for Gaming! 

Now you understand what elements you’ll need to find the best internet for gaming. Take these eight considerations with you on your search for internet providers, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the best services for you. And fewer internet issues = more time for gaming, so take the time to find a provider that works well for you and your lifestyle. Are you looking for high-speed, reliable internet for gamers, contact our specialists at 877-722-3833 or submit an inquiry and we will help you pick the right service for you. 

What Does It Take To Get Fiber In Your City?

High-speed internet allows businesses and residents alike to connect to the world. In addition, faster internet will improve your online experience for education, businesses, and entertainment. At Race, we are committed to bringing high-quality, affordable internet infrastructure to communities across the state of California.

However, before our fiber network becomes available to the community, there are several steps that need to take place. Bringing our services such as fiber internet into communities is an in-depth project that takes extensive research and planning, not to mention the actual building of the network and infrastructure. Today we are giving you a behind-the-scenes look and breaking down what it takes for Race to come to your community. Let’s go!

What is internet infrastructure? 

Before we get into how to build an internet infrastructure, let’s define it. Internet infrastructure is the framework of the internet. It’s made of physical hardware, transmission media, software, and cables that connect everyone to the internet. The infrastructure essentially hosts, stores, and possesses all the information and content you find on websites, cloud services, and applications. It is the heart of the internet. 

18 Months Out – Research and Exploration Begins

This development phase typically begins 12-18 months out from the time the internet is available to the community. During this phase, Race creates a construction plan for the communities. This phase explores exactly how we’ll bring high-speed internet to the city. We work to develop the project in partnership with local authorities. During this phase, we cover permitting and review infrastructure. This covers everything from where roads are located, researching underground utility paths, finding utility easements, and uncovering potential challenges.

9-12 Months Out – Design Begins 

9-12 months out from the launch of services Race enters the design phase. During this phase, our engineers and design team partner with the city to plan out the network. Every inch of our network is carefully planned using data we gathered during our research phase. Our engineers create a map of where we can build based on existing infrastructure and map out obstacles such as existing utility poles, water, gas, and electric lines. 

6-9 Months Out – Construction Begins

The plans are now complete, and it’s time to get to work! Our crews hit the ground during construction and get straight to work laying and splicing miles of fiber cables. This is the time you’ll see our team members out on your street. The team is working diligently to bring you some of the fastest internet in the nation at a great price! 

The construction phase is most vulnerable to outside factors that can delay or stretch out this timeline. Like any construction, Race can be heavily impacted by weather, permitting, and resources. This is especially true while the global supply chain is disrupted due to the pandemic. 

9 Months Out – Spreading The Word

Now that we know bringing high-speed internet to the community is possible, it’s time to make announcements. The announcements come around the same time as construction crews begin arriving in an area – usually around 9-12 months before the launch. Race begins to prepare the citizens for the arrival and announces the services to come. At this point, we build a community page on our website and publish a press release informing residents about the upcoming services and developments in their city or town. We develop pages with community-specific information and allow residents to subscribe to monthly newsletter updates. 

1 Month Out – Sign up 

Construction is now in its final stage. We are inching closer to bringing high-speed internet to the community! Once our building is almost complete, Race releases our order form for your region. This gives you the ability to choose the services you want for your home or business. 

Once services are chosen and construction is complete, we will begin the installation process. The installation process has its own unique steps based on your location so check with your customer service representative to find the process in your area.

Conclusion 

There you have it! It takes time to build a carefully thought out internet infrastructure, but the high-speed internet at the end is worth waiting for. We are committed to providing high-quality internet to communities throughout the country. If you are interested in learning more, check out our services to see what we offer in your area!