The digital divide refers to the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all. It includes the imbalance both in physical access to technology and the resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen.
The term is commensurate with the term knowledge divide, both reflecting the access of various social groupings to information and knowledge, typically gender, income, race, and by location. The term global digital divide refers to differences in access between countries.
There are several definitions of the Term. Bharat Mehra defines it simply as the troubling gap between those who use computers and the Internet and those who do not.
More recently, some have used the term to refer to gaps in broadband network access. The term can mean not only unequal access to computer hardware, but also inequalities between groups of people in the ability to use information technology fully. Lisa Servon argued in 2002 that the digital divide is a symptom of a larger and more complex problem -- that of persistent poverty and inequality. Mehra (2004), identifies socioeconomic status, income, educational level, and race among other factors associated with technological attainment, or the potential of the Internet to improve everyday life for those on the margins of society and to achieve greater social equity and empowerment.
More broadly, the global digital divide describes the Infotech disparities between different regions of the world in relation to generalized rates of social and technological development, (right).
One school of thought holds that, as the internet becomes progressively more sophisticated, the digital divide is growing, that those to whom it is least available are being left behind. Countries with a wide availability of Internet access can advance the economics of that country on a local and global scale. In Western society commerce, and social interaction generally, is almost entirely Internet dependant to a lesser or greater extent. Andy Grove, the former Chair of Intel, said that by the mid-2000s all companies will be Internet companies, or they won’t be companies at all.
In countries where the Internet and other technologies are less/not accessible, uneducated people and societies that are not benefiting from the information age cannot be competitive in the global economy