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      Joe Barry
      Joe Barry,

      VP Marketing, Systems and Technology Cloud and Communications BU

      Analog Devices

      Author Details
      Joe Barry
      Joe Barry is the Vice President of Marketing, Systems and Technology Cloud and Communications Business Unit at Analog Devices. He is responsible for the Wireless Market Segment, along with the technology groups of high speed converters, SDR transceivers, and microwave communications. For more than 26 years, Joe has served in leadership roles in the wireless communications, consumer, and semiconductor industry. He earned a B.Eng. in electrical and electronic engineering from University of Greenwich and an MBA from the University of Limerick. Joe holds five patents in analog and digital video and audio technologies.
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      BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: BUSINESS AND INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATION

      Three billion people across the globe remain in the digital dark. Because they lack access to network infrastructure or affordable internet service, they miss the critical healthcare, education, and employment opportunities the rest of us rely on. In response, private industry, public institutions, and governments are creating new business models, partnerships, and alliances to reduce infrastructure costs, expand affordable access, and close the gap.

      A 6-POINT ROADMAP

      There is no quick and easy path to bridging the digital divide, but targeted planning and actions can make significant progress and bring us closer to digital equity.

      1. Attaining Affordable Access and Digital Literacy

        Broadband availability alone does not ensure equitable access. Even in connected urban communities, low-income families often lack access because they cannot afford to pay for services and technology. Large populations need cell phones and computers at home, training to attain digital literacy, information in their language, and easy-to-use interfaces.

      2. Justifying Investment

        Telecom and private network providers require acceptable returns. The high capital cost of building out network infrastructure and providing service in sparsely populated rural areas and developing nations with high speed connectivity at an affordable price is challenging.

      3. Cost Reduction through Shared Infrastructure

        The telecom industry needs the ability to build and scale networks that are bigger and more efficient. By investing in shared infrastructure, the industry can reduce ownership costs and deliver access—providing more affordable, high quality connectivity.

      4. Partnering to Bring Communities Connectivity

        The high costs of connecting more parts of the world with affordable broadband access require creative partnerships between businesses, service providers, technology experts, telecom infrastructure companies, community action groups, and governments.

      5. Private Sector Participation

        Large corporations and industry organizations possess some of the essential ingredients for bridging the digital divide—technology, management skills, and the ability to finance, monetize, and scale.

      6. Planning and Participation by Local, Regional, and National Governments

        A more progressive and collaborative regulatory environment to help attract investment, government participation, and funding will improve connectivity.

      Network infrastucture
      View of the Network Infrastructure

      DIGITAL DIVIDE: ECONOMICS 101

      URBAN VS. RURAL ECONOMICS

      Market conditions in many countries do not incentivize private companies to seek out rural, remote, or disconnected customers and connect them. To gain internet access in these areas requires building a network backbone across a vast territory, then adding branch networks (wired and wireless) to reach sparsely populated communities. It’s much more financially viable to build a system that reaches millions of customers in an urban area than to construct a long cable to reach and connect customers in a rural area.

      A 10 percentage point increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.2% jump in real per capita GDP growth in developed economies.

      The World Bank

      BUILDING AN ECOSYSTEM

      Today, telcos, technology companies, community action groups, and governments are developing funding programs, forming creative partnerships, and working together to build shared infrastructure and deploy industry-wide, open standards-based technology solutions.

      Analog Devices is nurturing the ecosystem by combining its advanced technologies in transceivers, power management, baseband software, and its industry-leading domain experience to help network infrastructure customers in their efforts to expand affordable access.

      Icon representing a government funding program, depicted by an illustration of the Capitol Building.

      GOVERNMENT FUNDING PROGRAMS

      The 2022 CHIPS Act provides $65 billion to expand internet access for millions of people in the U.S., upgrading older technologies with high speed fiber or wireless networks. Included are $45 billion in state grants to fund companies, local governments, and nonprofits to expand broadband infrastructure. Funds will also subsidize monthly service plans for low-income households.

      Partner2Connect (P2C) Digital Coalition is a multistakeholder alliance launched in line with the U.N. Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation globally through stakeholder collaboration—the only way to tackle a challenge of this scale and magnitude. The focus is on the hardest to connect communities in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

      Partnerships

      PARTNERSHIPS

      Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is investing billions of dollars in programs and technologies to increase broadband availability, access, and affordability in emerging global markets. The company is investing in 10,000 kilometers of terrestrial fiber and 37,000 kilometers of subsea fiber with 2Africa to help bring millions of people faster access.

      Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Meta have partnered to address fiber gaps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Together with 2Africa, they will complete a missing fiber link between East and West Africa, establish DRC as a connection hub for neighboring landlocked countries, promote open access infrastructure sharing, and improve reliability and speeds for 30 million people.

      Nayatel and Meta have partnered to invest and build an open access fiber network to address the growing demand for urban connectivity for 10 million people in eight Pakistani cities.

      Icon representing open standards, depicted by two open hands.

      OPEN STANDARDS

      O-RAN Alliance. Creating standards for Open Radio Access Networks: a limited choice of technology providers and the lack of flexibility in specific solutions make it challenging for operators to manage their networks nimbly. The O-RAN Alliance is creating standards that allow operators to choose multiple vendors to build out their networks, increasing innovation and flexibility, and reducing the total cost of ownership for network operators.

      TIP: The Telecom Infra Project. In a quest for increased competition, lower costs, and more choices—TIP is helping to build a global marketplace for O-RAN solutions. The TIP community, a global network of operators, network vendors, research organizations, and universities, is working to accelerate the development of open, interoperable, standards-based technology solutions.

      Digital Literacy Icon. An iMac computer and a book representing the concept of building digital literacy.

      BUILDING DIGITAL LITERACY

      The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), funded by a grant from Google’s charitable arm, is making it easier for Native Americans living in rural and tribal communities to access critical connectivity services. Native Americans living on reservations have some of the lowest access to broadband internet in the U.S.

      The World Economic Forum recently launched the Edison Alliance. Its 1 Billion Lives Challenge aims to improve people’s lives through affordable and accessible digital solutions across healthcare, financial services, and education by 2025. The group aims to shape digital inclusion agendas and cultivate partnerships between government and industry leaders.

      Giga, UNICEF, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Combining UNICEF’s experience in education and procurement, ITU’s expertise in regulation and policy, and the private sector’s ability to apply tech solutions at pace, Giga aims to connect every school in the world to the internet by 2030. Since 2019, Giga has connected more than 2.1 million students at over five thousand schools.

      Icon for new business models, featuring a circular arrow circling a cog wheel.

      NEW BUSINESS MODELS

      Amazon’s AWS Marketplace with Magma software preinstalled and license free will make fixed wireless and private network deployments quick and easy at a significantly lower cost of ownership. The open-source project will enable service providers to deploy 4G and 5G networks substantially faster.

      Sparrow, a mobile phone service provider, is collaborating with programs providing mobile access to refugees in Texas, homeless youth in Chicago, and the disadvantaged in the San Francisco Bay area.

      Icon of a hand holding a globe, representing corporate initiatives.

      CORPORATE INITIATIVES

      Cambium Networks: Connecting the Unconnected. A leading global provider of wireless infrastructure for business and residential broadband and Wi-Fi, Cambium Networks collaborates with and serves network operators in education, healthcare, industrial campuses, and municipalities to maximize broadband and Wi-Fi performance.

      Analog Devices. Engineering for Good. We’ve developed important software-defined radio and harmonized power technologies for most of the world’s 5G networks. As a contributor to O-RAN and TIP, ADI encourages ecosystem diversity, innovation, and open access infrastructure to bring wired, wireless, and mobile access to the world’s population.

      ONE STEP BEYOND

      WIRELESS 5G

      Network infrastructure needs to be more than just traditional cable or fiber to the home as the cost of laying cable in rural and remote regions or land-locked areas is prohibitive. “Addressing gaps in mobile internet connectivity is essential for any country’s development,” said Rima Qureshi, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Verizon.

      Photo of a 5G tower with mmWave, set against a blue sky background.
      5G Tower with mmWave

      Wireless connectivity via low Earth orbit satellite communications and cell towers can help close the digital divide. However, cost-effective network switches, routers, and components are still needed, along with affordable cell phones and data plans for people who can’t afford the cost.

      Making Wi-Fi available to people when and where they need it. As widespread as Wi-Fi is, it’s still not ubiquitous. Meta is engaging with the industry to help accelerate Wi-Fi by enabling new technologies, expanding spectrum, and exploring new business models with ISPs, MNOs, and businesses.

      MMWAVE

      Delivering fiber-like speeds over the air. Alaska Communications is deploying Terragraph-based solutions from Cambium Networks to provide gigabit speeds to homes and businesses. Using street-level mmWave radios, Terragraph leverages existing utility poles on streets to create a wireless distribution network. The mmWave technology, developed in part with Analog Devices, is able to deliver reliable, high speed fiber-like internet connectivity to urban and suburban customers—and does it at a fraction of the cost of fiber.

      "Connectivity in itself isn’t sufficient. It’s learning how to use that connectivity.”

      Justin Dent

      Executive Director | Outschool.org

      A BETTER FUTURE FOR ALL

      Mother and daughter looking at a laptop screen on a kitchen table.

      Developing the technology and infrastructure to serve those in need will only occur with the commitment and cooperation between the private sector and community partners working together to reduce network total cost of ownership through shared infrastructure. Today, advocates from industry, local community action groups, and national, state, and local governments are democratizing access and connecting communities. Why? Because it makes good sense to invest in people and their future. By doing so, we also invest in our nations, our economies, and ourselves.