The naissance of the internet is one of the most important technological advancements of our time. With the internet’s arrival, the world we live in has transitioned from a loose group of national units that were relatively insular and closed off to one another, to progressively more interconnected bands of digital tribes whose borders have become increasingly blurry. Communications, business, international relations, and entertainment have all been irrevocably changed by the digital age in which we live today.
The whole system rests on a well-maintained, well-designed digital infrastructure. Without further investment into this, from such varied stakeholders as governments, IT professionals, venture capitalists, and the main public user base, much of the digital advancement we have made so far would crumble. These are just a few of the reasons investing further in solid digital infrastructure projects is necessary. But first, what is digital infrastructure?
What Is Digital infrastructure?
Simply put, a country’s digital infrastructure is the series of interconnected systems that allow information technology connectivity to occur over fixed line phones, broadband, and mobile data protocols. When itemized, it is a country’s collection of cell signal towers, base stations, network hubs, routers, and modems, along with the necessary hardcoded software to run each of these, that allow users to connect to the internet.
In addition to this independent system, a country’s digital infrastructure also includes its own capacity for GPS navigation and ping sites. These include actual orbital satellites and signal boosters located on ground, sometimes installed within cellular towers as well.
Why Is Digital Infrastructure Worth Investing In?
There are many advantages to investing in digital infrastructure. These include:
Enhanced Cross-Border Communications
Prior to the advent of the internet, people had to rely on phone lines to remain in contact with their friends and family overseas. This technology was clunky, difficult to use, and prone to breaking down, to say nothing of the exorbitant prices telecommunications companies would charge users for international or domestic long-distance calls.
Today, the cost of making a call to a friend, relative, or colleague in another country has been reduced to what is likely a fraction of a penny. Not only are we now able to make voice calls for almost nothing; we are able to see each other and send clear videos to one another as we talk, a technology that previous generations chalked up to science fiction. This communication method became especially vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many offices were forced to move their operations to remote locations and telecommuting setups, while schools also had to adopt online or distance learning to protect children from exposure to the virus.
Business Operations Expansion and E-Commerce Opportunities
There can be no doubt about the internet’s impact on a company’s capacity to do business. In the past, businesses had to rely on word of mouth, their own reputations, and for some brands, tri-media advertising, to win clients and attract new customers.
Today, almost every business unit has benefitted in some way from the power granted by the internet. Small businesses can quickly ramp up their marketing efforts by leveraging social media, search marketing, and pay-per-click advertising that is not as resource-intensive as traditional campaigns. Business process outsourcing has allowed companies to move portions of their operations overseas, reducing their labor costs and other operational expenses while still receiving the same level of service. Finally, businesses of all sizes can leverage the captive markets located within the biggest ecommerce selling platforms, allowing them to reach customers throughout the world, expanding the size of their potential market by several orders of magnitude.
These are just a few examples of how the internet has allowed businesses to quickly scale up their operations, the fruits of which translate into larger tax remittances for governments and increased potential for foreign investment.
Service Delivery to Remote Locations
This benefit has become much more apparent with the widespread implementation of both cellular and GPS connectivity protocols. In the past, connectivity was dependent on hardline connections via phones or cables. This made investment in digital infrastructure much more expensive, requiring telecommunications companies to build towers and lay cables to make connectivity possible. Under ideal circumstances and given accessible topography, this was, at best, an expensive and arduous process, but when it came to implementation in rural or mountainous areas, it became next to impossible.
Cellular connectivity changed all that. Simply erecting a cell tower meant that people who lived close to it could enjoy all the benefits of high-speed internet, quickly and without having to build too many large structures to get it. Most importantly, it allowed the people who lived in those areas to gain communications access to emergency services when necessary.
Perhaps the biggest advantage that governments can gain from continuously reinvesting in their country’s digital infrastructure is the peace of mind and contentment it provides that country’s citizens. Whether we like it or not, we live in a connected world and most people have come to expect the widespread availability of connectivity. When it isn’t made available to citizens, the dissatisfaction this lack of connectivity causes could result in civil unrest.