newmediadev2009



Conclusion and Recommendation


Difficulties

Affordability
The widening income gap between urban and rural residents in China is a constraining factor in the rural adoption of ICTs. For example, a personal computer and a mobile phone have been considered a luxury item by many rural dwellers. On the basis of the same usage behavior, the cost of telecommunications constitutes a significant portion of the rural per disposable capita income, particularly for mobile phone usage. Thus, to hasten the ICT’s adoption rate, the rural population needs assistance in overcoming the affordability issue. 18473.jpg

Many software and hardware manufacturers are providing support and contributing resources to cultivate IT talents and usage in the rural regions, however, there actually lacks an incentive for the service providers to invest in broadening their businesses in rural areas. For instance, the expansion of telecommunication coverage, whether fixed-line or wireless, into the rural areas is not so much for the sake of increasing business revenue but more on the grounds of social responsibility in closing the economic gap between the “haves” and “have-nots”. To encourage ICT adoption in the rural areas, the high telecommunications cost requires some form of subsidization, as operators will take a considerable period of time to build a critical mass in those regions to achieve breakeven point or economies of scale on their investment. Not only for mobile phones, should China's government further undertake other projects through its state-owned enterprises in narrowing the digital gap between the rural and urban areas.

ICTs Illiteracy
Besides affordability issue, ICTs illiteracy is another major problem that contributes to the digital divide between the urban and rural areas. The rural Internet users have lower education background as compared to urban Internet users, moreover, in the remote rural area, students’ topics and areas of learning is based on what the teachers are capable of teaching rather than skills that the economy requires. Thus the acute shortage of IT teaching staff in the rural area has a major impact on cultivating a pool of capable ICT users. A constant shortage of IT talents can potentially perpetuate a digital divide and a vicious cycle in income disparity.

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Lacks of knowledge on Internet/computer and related facilities hinder the enlargement of netizen population in rural areas. Therefore, popularizing the Internet knowledge among non-netizens, increasing Internet experience, increasing the number of Internet-related facilities affordable to rural residents are all effective ways to publicize the roles of Internet in promoting income rise of rural and in their learning and daily life.



Suggestions
In order to truly include people in rural China into national developments, rural people should not be the only actor to shoulder the burden to generate their own cultural and indigenous consciousness and subjectivity. It is important that there are awareness of both central government and local officials about the need for a service and what is involved in providing it, and concerted efforts from government and industry in channeling more resources to poor groups and regions. In particular, the high cost of ICTs to the rural users as a result of low earning power and the acute shortage of training resources in the rural area require government support and intervention. The germ of localness should take root in education, a field where media and digital literacy, indigenous culture, and a global view are passed down to make sure the younger generation is better equipped with ammunitions against mainstream ideology and abilities to generate local discourses. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the rural communities to integrate into the main stream of economic activities and catch up in economic development with their urban counterparts.

see also:
Digital Divide Between Urban and Rural Regions in China
Survey Report on Internet Development in Rural China 2007
Statistical Report on Internet Development in China (July 2009)