WiMAX, an uncertain promise for bridging the Digital Divide
In general terms, technology is born as the indirect consequence of social demands that are identified by researchers as interesting problems to solve; in solving the problem, they produce new knowledge. If they think they will obtain benefits, manufacturers and service providers take those results and produce products and services that satisfy that demand. Undoubtfully, there exist social needs that cannot be covered obtaining benefit. If a society considers covering those needs to be a social priority, then complementary measurements should be taken to adequately promote innovation. In ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), innovation tends to satisfy the needs of urban inhabitants because they are more concentrated and richer than those living in rural areas. It also tends to privilege the needs of people living in developed countries, where the number of consumers for new products and services is much higher. Access to ICT becomes more and more relevant as we evolve towards a new society structured around information and knowledge. The different access to ICT is not only important by itself, but also it creates significant differences in the access to quality healthcare, educational resources, and markets. This gap in global opportunities, that becomes wider because of different access to ICT, is generally called the Digital Divide, and exists among countries as well as between urban and rural areas within each country. Bridging this gap may improve the access to primary services and, hence, foster human development. A technology called WiMAX was born in 2001 as a wireless alternative to xDSL technologies for last-mile residential Internet access, but also as a means to bring connectivity to undeserved areas. WiMAX is considered by many experts as having the main features for bridging the Digital Divide existing both in urban areas of developing countries and in rural areas of the World [10, 27]. Nevertheless, almost ten years after its release, it does not seem that WiMAX has fulfilled this aim. Hence, an existing appropriate technology is not satisfying the needs of an existing demand. This article analyses the reasons for this failure in the improvement of social development through technology.
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