Universal broadband promotes equity across the globe

As you read before here on the Speed Matters blog, broadband access is hardly just an American issue. Many countries across the world realized long before we did that access to high speed Internet offers significant social and economic advantages ,and puts those without it at a severe disadvantage.

The New York Times recently profiled a South Korean company that uses the Internet to deliver videos that help students prepare for college entrance exams. Traditionally in South Korea, only the students from the wealthiest families could afford private lessons with the best tutors. But MegaStudy, which 2.8 million students use, has helped democratize the process of test preparation by allowing students everywhere to access the country's best teachers at a much lower cost. From a case study in how high speed Internet brings equality:

"The explosive growth of Megastudy, and other Web cram schools it has inspired, has taken place against the backdrop of a phenomenon that many here, including President Lee Myung-bak, have deplored: students' chances of entering a top university are often determined by their parents' ability to pay for after-school tutoring.

The South Korean government has jumped into the game as well, using the web to distribute educational videos to students who can't afford tutors or private videos.

"The government considers the Web an ally in curbing the runaway costs of private education. In 2004, EBS, a government-run educational TV network, opened a Web site that offered free tutorials on the national exam and now has 2.8 million members."

None of that would have been possible if South Korea hadn't been so forward-thinking over the past decade, installing high speed networks that bring access to all Koreans.

Other countries, like the United Kingdom, have also recognized the inherent problems that unequal access has. The government there has committed to raising every household's Internet speed to over 2 Mbps by 2012. (Make sure the check out a cool map of British Internet access here.)

Broadband access shouldn't just be for the privileged, it should be for everyone.

Tech company helps South Korean students ace entrance tests (New York Times)

UK broadband 'notspots' revealed (BBC)

Indicative geographic spread of slow/no broadband (Broadband performance labs)