Overcoming the Digital Divide in Rural Areas: Focusing on the Mobile Divide


Jongtae Lee, Myeong-Cheol Park

Publication Date

December 30, 2011


Although the diffusion of mobile services appears to be occurring much more rapidly than the spread of wired services, there are risks of a new type of digital divide: the mobile divide. The mobile divide, which refers to a specific digital divide that involves the unbalanced diffusion of mobile technologies, must be concretely studied. Thus, this study focuses on the mobile divide with respect to disadvantaged populations. Although various studies suggest that the diffusion of mobile devices may reduce the digital divide, somestudies argue against the positive effect of mobile devices in addressing traditional digital devices. Low and O’Connell (2006) insisted that equity of access to mobile technologies should be considered in the contextof the traditional digital divide; they argued that there may be socio-economic barriers to accessing mobile devices and the mobile Internet that are similar to the socio- economic barriers to accessing stationary computers and the stationary use of the Internet. Focusing on the smartphone divide, this study suggests that emphasizing utilization is an appropriate manner in which to bridge the mobile divide rather than focusing on other factors, such as accessibility and capability, thatprevious studies have used to measure the traditional digital divide.




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