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Reducing the Digital Divide

AN INTERVENTION OF REBALANCING IN THE TERRITORY

Digital Divide is one of those terms that is most frequently used in sectors that deal with the diffusion of e-Government and the development of the territory in its entirety. A term that has become fashionable and is often overused, it summarizes an actual risk of “technological isolation” that some brackets of the population (elderly, women, inhabitants of small communities, etc.) and businesses concretely run. The Digital Divide takes on different aspects according to the situations. We speak of illiteracy return when we think of the elderly, or of loss of competitiveness when we think of businesses that compete with others or of young people that are starting off in the work world. Technological isolation is none other than the inability to grasp fully the opportunities of growth and development that are made possible from today's information and communication technologies (ICT).

A bracket that is particularly threatened is represented by the inhabitants and the businesses that reside in small communities (conventionally those with populations inferior to 5,000). In Italy approximately 20% of the population lives in small communities (almost 6,000 out of a total of 8,100) while in the province of Bologna this percentage drops to 8%, to then rise significantly to nearly 40% in the Mountain Communities.


 
Mountain Communities
number inhabitants
small Communities
%
Alta e Media Valle del Reno 39.395 25.552 64,9
Cinque Valli Bolognesi 61.242 12.840 21,0
Reno + Valli 100.637 38.392 38,1
Valle del Samoggia 37.561 11.876 31,6
Valle del Santerno 9.528 9.528 100,0
totale 147.726 59.796 40,5

These are the reasons that motivated the Marconi Foundation to conceive and plan an intervention of rebalancing in the territory concentrating on those areas in the province of Bologna where market logics have particularly penalized telecommunication technologies (market crash): they are the communities located in the Reno and Setta valleys, more precisely those clustered in the Mountain Community of the High and Medium Reno Valley and the (ex) Comunità Cinque Valli Bolognesi, where approximately 100,000 people live, 40% of which reside in small communities.

The intervention has involved, in the span of four years, an expenditure of 550,000 euro, covered almost entirely by a fund of 500,000 euro allocated by the Fondazione del Monte of Bologna and Ravenna, and a contribution of 50,000 made available by the Marconi Wireless consortium.

The hypothesized intervention had (and has had) as its principal objective the realization of an extensive wireless network of Hiperlan technology operating at a frequency of 5.4 Ghz and capable of guaranteeing a total band of 100 Mb/s. However, during the course of the project, a collaboration with Telecom Italia was established to identify which exchanges could be updated in a relatively fast amount of time and with contained costs. An agreement was defined by virtue of which the company committed, against the acquisition of social services (of modest import), to significantly optimize these exchanges (through the installation of miniDSLAM or DSLAM modules) in order to supply an ADSL service (with a speed of little less than 1 Mb/s).

For that which regards the wireless network, the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation (subject to agreement with the Fondazione del Monte) has granted the use of the protocol to the Acantho/Satcom company, it being understood that the ownership of the protocol and the apparatuses remains of public domain (Marconi Foundation); this concession, not onerous (the Foundation does not receive any compensation), is in exchange for Acantho's commitment to offer a service at market price to both citizens and businesses, to support all maintenance costs relative to the protocol and to offer 10 free connected areas for each of the communities served, to be utilized mostly for social and cultural activities.

To verify the coverage in the territory:

http://www.marconiwireless.it/WMaps/

 

 

   


David Sarnoffsarnoff

Marconi was the creator of the present day civilization of the radio. All of those who, with spirit of initiative and perseverance, have brought us to the present stage of development have built on the foundations laid by Marconi. Everyone considered him the tutelary genius of their work.

 



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