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. 

Race Communications Supports Mentoring with a Silver Sponsorship of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area  

In April of 2022, Race CEO Raul Alcaraz paused during his board meeting to see an email plea from his outside counsel, a former Big Brother Big Sister board member. The email asked if Race could be a corporate sponsor of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area Gala. The non-profit mentoring organization was one sponsorship shy of its Gala goal, its primary fundraiser of the year. Raul immediately stepped up to the plate and became a Silver Sponsor of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Gala held on April 22nd in San Francisco. 

The Silver Level sponsorship allowed Race Communications to fund seven matches of volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters with their Little Brother or Little Sister in the Greater Bay Area, forever changing the lives of these seven underprivileged children. One in four of the children this program serves has a parent who is incarcerated. Additionally, 72 percent come from single-parent households, and the overwhelming majority (90%) are low-income. Single parents often struggle to provide financially for their families and have less time to be present in their child’s life. Due to this, these children are exposed to greater adversity such as gang activity, crime, and substance abuse. They have the potential for greatness but need a special role model and friend that they can trust.    

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program matches a carefully screened and background checked adult mentor (a “Big”) with an enrolled child (the “Little”), and they commit to meet twice a month for a year. The Big and Little share everyday activities, like doing homework, sharing a pizza and movie night, taking hikes, shooting hoops, attending sporting events, going to the zoo, or sightseeing. Match Specialists from Big Brothers Big Sisters check in periodically with the volunteers to offer resources, advice and lend a listening ear. Often the Big-Little matches last years, and they become “family.”  

Studies of the program show that these enrolled children gain confidence, their grades improve, and they drop out of school less than similarly situated underprivileged children. It is clear that just having a caring adult in their life can make all the difference in the world. Big Brothers and Big Sisters also provide scholarships and grants for camping or playing an instrument to children who have participated in the program.  

Race is proud to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area because it is consistent with our past community activities, such as school backpack giveaways and giving trees for families affected by the devastating wildfires. Race Communications serves its communities by providing an essential service, ultra-fast gigabit broadband, and taking care of those who are less fortunate in these difficult times.  

In addition, Race salutes the volunteer adult mentors in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area program and thanks them for giving their time to these children.  

42 WiFi Terms You Need To Know If You Have Wireless Internet

Do you understand wifi terms, or does it sound like another language? Our glossary of terms will help you learn essential WiFi terms you need to know, explaining the technical mumbo jumbo, abbreviations, and common acronyms you will run into when discussing wireless internet. 

Below you’ll find the common and not-so-standard WiFi terms, so you’re ready for any conversation. Let’s explore!

WiFi Terms

Access point – Base station device for a wireless network that allows wireless devices to connect to a network. Access points can increase the range of your WiFi. 

Antenna – A device used to send and receive radio waves. Any device that sends or receives wireless signals needs to have an antenna. Usually, they are internal and not visible. 

Bandwidth – A term to describe the amount of data transmitted over a connection. Typically, bandwidth is measured in bits per second or megabits per second.

Base Station – A radio receiver or transmitter that is the component of a wireless LAN that acts as the hub of a wireless network or serves as the bridge between the wired network and the wireless clients. 

Bridge – a device that connects two or more LANs or networks and allows them to share resources. For example, wired internet to wireless. 

Channel – A specific frequency range that a wifi network operates in. 

Client – Any device that uses wifi to connect to a network such as a smartphone, or laptop.

Coverage Area – the area in which a wifi signal can be received by devices.

DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol- is the protocol used by routers to assign IP addresses dynamically to devices on a network so they can communicate. 

DNS – Domain Name System- The decentralized system used to translate the English domain names we see in web browsers into numerical IP addresses

DSL – Digital Subscriber Lane – The connection runs over phone lines which can be used for both DSL and voice communication. It is available for both residential and commercial use.

Dwell Time – The length of time that a user or device is connected to WiFi 

Encryption – A process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format so only the sender and recipient can read it for data protection and security.

Ethernet – A popular type of computer networking technology that supports wired internet connections over distances up to 100 meters. Most commonly, ethernet connections utilize Cat5 or Cat6 cables. 

Firewall – A protective security device in the form of software or hardware that monitors traffic to and from your device. Firewalls can block or allow data based on set security parameters to stop hackers or viruses. 

Frequency Bands- WiFi frequency bands are frequency ranges within a spectrum that carry wifi. Frequency is the number of times a waveform repeats in one second (the higher the frequency, the faster data transmits). 

GHz – gigahertz- a unit of frequency equal to one billion hertz.

Hotspot – access points that allow you to connect to WiFi networks using devices while away from your home network. Some hotspots are publically accessible wifi networks. 

Intranet – a private restricted network that uses wifi to connect devices within an organization that users can share and store information within the private network. 

IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers- this is the professional organization responsible for developing WiFi standards.

Interference – Any type of energy that can affect the operation of a WiFi network, sources include wireless microwaves, baby monitors, and other neighboring networks. 

IoT – the Internet of Things, a network of physical devices that are connected to the internet

IP Address – Internet Protocol address- this is a unique identifier address assigned to every device connected to the internet. IP addresses consist of a series of numbers used to communicate over the internet. 

ISP – Internet Service Provider- a company that provides access to the internet.

Kbps – kilobits per second- a unit of data transfer rate equal to one thousand bits per second.

LAN – Local Area Network- A network of devices in one physical location or wifi network such as in an office or school.

Mbps – megabits per second – a unit of data transfer rate equal to one million bits per second.

MIMO – multiple-input, multiple-output – a wifi technology that uses multiple antennas to improve performance and transfer more data simultaneously. 

Mesh network – Multiple routers that work together to create a wifi network to provide better coverage in larger spaces like homes or offices. 

Net neutrality – the principle that all data on the internet should be treated equally, regardless of its source or destination. Meaning the internet service provider needs to give all content, and sites the same speed and conditions. 

Packet – A small unit of data that is sent over a network. Each package includes a source and destination plus the content.

Ping – Is a signal sent used to test the reachability of a host on an IP network. Commonly they are sent to measure response times or see if the host is available. 

PSK – Pre-Shared Key- a wifi security key that is shared between the user and the network. It consists of 8 to 63 characters. 

Repeater – A device that amplifies the signal of a wifi network and rebroadcasts it. 

Router – A device that allows your computer or other devices to connect to the internet. Routers connect your local home network to the internet then forwards data packets between devices.

SSID – Service Set Identifier- this is the name assigned to a wifi network. In simplest terms, a WiFi network name distinguishes it from other surrounding networks. 

Sticky Client – a wifi device that is configured to connect to a specific access point that no longer provides strong coverage when better access points are available.

TCP – Transmission Control Protocol- One of the main protocols used by the internet. TCP uses a suite of communication protocols to connect network devices. 

VoIP – Voice over IP- a technology that allows voice conversations to be transmitted over an IP network.

WAN – Wide Area Network-  Any WiFi network that covers a large geographic area, such as a city or region connecting other local area networks. 

WiFi – Wireless Fidelity- this is the common name for the 802.11 family of wifi standards.

WPA, WPA2, WEP – Wi-Fi Protected Access- A security standard used to protect devices with a WiFi connection using encryption and user authentication, created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. WPA2 is currently the standard.

WiFi Terms – It’s a Wrap! 

There you have it, the definitive list of WiFi terms! Bookmark this page and keep it handy. If you ever need to look one up, you’ll be glad you did. 

Did we miss a term you wanted to know? Comment and let us know. We’ll add it in future updates! 

‘Tis the season! Watch out for these scams!

Scams aren’t new; they’ve been around for decades. With technological advances and the rise of the Internet, scams have gotten more elaborate and convincing. They are used to con the most unsuspecting and vulnerable among us.

Most of us have heard of the more common cons out there, such as claims of false inheritances as well as IRS and social security scams. However, new scams are on the rise and they are not always as easy to spot! We have compiled a list with some of the current cons out there! The best way to combat scammers is to be aware of the scams, making you less likely to fall for them! Here’s what to look for so you don’t become a victim.


Free WiFi scams:
Free WiFi scams have become increasingly common, as most of us tend to jump on WiFi when we’re not at home or at the office, as we work to preserve our allotted cellular data for the month. The next time you’re looking for a wireless hotspot and locate one called Free WiFi, beware! These WiFi scams enable hackers to access personal information, emails, usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. This can happen anywhere you try to connect to the internet while on the go, but it is especially prevalent at airports.

Social Media Q&A Scams:
Sometimes on Facebook, people may share “viral” posts which include questions such as: “What was your first car?” or “Who was your best friend as a child?”. If you’ve noticed the most common security questions on Apple or your bank’s website, you’ll notice that these are very much the same. Don’t ever answer them on a public forum such as Facebook or Instagram! If people can get one or two answers like this, they can get into your accounts claiming they’ve forgotten your password.

Utility Scams:
Fraudsters have been taking advantage of rising utility bills to prey on consumers and steal personal and financial information. There are two common types of utility scams—the phone call from a fake representative of your utility company and the more brazen door-to-door promotional pricing or product scam. These scams are particularly prevalent in California with scammers pretending to represent SCE, PG&E and other local utility companies. For example, customers have been notified through phone calls and emails of overdue bills that appear to be sent form PG&E and need to be paid for immediately. Other times, the companies ask for deposits due to new changes in policies, etc.

If you believe you have been scammed or believe someone has attempted to defraud you, be sure and tell the FTC. Your reports help the FTC and law enforcement partners stop scammers. We hope you found this information useful and hope you share your newfound knowledge with your loved ones to help protect them from the long-term damage financial crimes can do.

Please keep in mind that Race will never ask for any personal information through email and all official communication will come from a race.com domain and late notices are always sent on official Race letterhead. Our company does not seek out deposits to fund our fiber deployment nor do we require payments via money orders or gift cards.  

If you’re ever in doubt about someone who claims to represent Race, be sure to ask for their company badge as it is required for all our employees to have proper identification when interacting with customers.

Why You Should Ditch DSL and Cable for Fiber

Not all internet options are created equal. All it takes is one missed virtual meeting or one lagging video game to realize that your current internet speeds may not be sufficient. If you aren’t happy with your current speeds, you may want to look into other options. But which service is best for you? Let’s explore the speed, reliability, and bandwidth of the three major service delivery options—landline telephone line (DSL), cable TV line (cable), and fiber-optic line (fiber)—to understand why fiber is the clear choice for today’s citizens of the internet.

Internet Speed

Fiber-optic broadband, which uses glass, offers faster internet speeds over greater distances than its copper-based competitors such as DSL and cable. “Fiber to the Home” (FTTH) internet service providers (ISP) boast gigabit-level speeds up into the 100–1,000 Mbps range—several times faster than the maximum offered by its counterparts. Comparatively, DSL speeds max out at about 45 Mbps, while cable hits top speed at 300 Mbps. While that may sound like more than you’ll ever need, the capacity and speed of cable and DSL fluctuate during times of demand, which can leave you lagging when you have a pressing deadline or virtual meeting to attend.

Internet Reliability

Simply put, if reliability is important to you, choose fiber. DSL and cable experience significant slowdowns during peak hours and during extreme weather conditions such as drastic temperature changes and flooding. Fiber alone withstands all of these conditions, including the heave usage of peak hours. Keep in mind that unplanned downtime adds a serious cost to both your productivity and bottom line.

Internet Usage

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your internet usage. The reality of technology advancements is that most of us are now high-capacity users. How many desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, and gaming systems are competing for bandwidth in your home? Do you stream Netflix or Hulu or videos on YouTube? Do you play video games or games on your phone? Do you have a security system or a video doorbell monitor that requires internet connection to function? What about a home assistant device? Even smart appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators usually need an internet connection. As we get more connected, a lightning-fast internet connection becomes increasingly important.

Ready to make the switch to fiber? Contact Race today!

www.race.com

877-722-3833