Can living without the web increase the social divide?

Help

The web is often regarded as the big "democratiser" because of the huge amount of information and access that it provides to everyone with a computer and an internet connection.

But what happens to those who do not have that access?

In New York City, they can rely on one hour a day of free internet at the public library, and if they have a laptop they can use wireless in a cafe.

Jerry Montgomery, out of a job for the last four years, cannot afford a laptop or a computer at home.

Pitney Bowes laid him off in 2008, the day after Lehman Brothers collapsed. When he was fired in 2008 he learned the hard way that he could not get a job the way he did before - knocking on doors with his charming nature and paper CV.

The job-search world has moved online and he had no idea how to navigate it.

"You need an online application even to work at Walmart," explains John Crant, job-search coach at the New York Public Library.

"Many people that come to see me at the library have no internet access at home. How much can you get done in 45 minutes a day in the library?" he says.

One third of all Americans - 100 million people - have not adopted broadband at home. In South Korea and Singapore adoption rates top 90%, according to a 2010 study by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

And there is a growing divide between the digital haves and have-nots: Less than one third of the poorest Americans have adopted broadband, while more than 90% of the richest have adopted, says Digital Nation 2011, a US government report.

The BBC takes a trip into a disconnected world - is it possible to escape poverty without the internet?

Produced by Anna Bressanin, Camera by Ilya Shnitser

Living Online

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.