Broadband Internet: The Power to Reconfigure Access

60 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2008 Last revised: 3 Dec 2015

See all articles by William H. Dutton

William H. Dutton

University of Southern California

Sharon E. Gillett

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Lee W. McKnight

Syracuse University iSchool

Malcolm Peltu

Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: August 1, 2003


The long-term societal implications of reshaping access for individuals, communities, organisations, nations and regions across the world are of major significance, but are not predetermined by the technology. Instead, they will unfold over time through the complex interplay among the many actors, participating in many arena, who shape these outcomes through a wide range of social, policy and technical choices, some as simple as whether or not to go online. Many of the choices that will shape the future of broadband Internet and its societal implications are highlighted in this paper, which draws on discussions and background position papers at the OII Forum.

The Forum focused on the issues surrounding 'broadband divides', which often mirror and reinforce existing social and economic divides - but may also create new ones. The experts who participated in the Forum represented diverse government, industry, and academic views. They sought deeper understanding of the social, economic and technological implications of the widespread availability and use of broadband Internet.

This paper provides a record of the event for a larger audience, and a synthesis of that debate to take forward research and action to policy makers, practitioners and researchers. Its summary of the main issues, insights, background data, ideas and recommendations that emerged at the Forum cover topics such as: the extent and equity implications of uneven availability and adoption of broadband; differences and commonalities in approaches across regions, nations and cultures; roles of industry, government and academia in broadband developments; broadband's relationship to economic, business and industrial competitiveness; and outcomes of broadband use in homes, communities and public services.

Keywords: internet access, broadband, social economic digital divide, internet adoption, policy

Suggested Citation

Dutton, William H. and Eisner Gillett, Sharon and McKnight, Lee Warren and Peltu, Malcolm, Broadband Internet: The Power to Reconfigure Access (August 1, 2003). OII Forum Discussion Paper No. 1. Available at SSRN: or

William H. Dutton (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

3502 Watt Way #304
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Sharon Eisner Gillett

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2373 (Phone)

Lee Warren McKnight

Syracuse University iSchool ( email )

Hinds Hall 228
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States
315-278-4392 (Phone)


Malcolm Peltu

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St Giles
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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