Wireless Freedom in Underserved Communities Nationwide

by July 31, 2009

Comments Highlight the Need for Digital Literacy Programs in Low-Income Communities and Suggest Ways to Diminish the Digital Divide: The Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) today expounded upon their commentary to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) for the development of a National Broadband Plan. ADE’s comments further discussed the need for broadband Internet adoption in underserved urban areas and the digital divide that would stem from increased regulation on wireless service providers. Below are excerpts from ADE’s statement:

“…we are encouraged by recent data from the Pew Center that shows that even among lower-income Americans broadband adoption has continued to grow despite the current recession. However, we also note that lower income Americans were far more likely than the more affluent to cut back or eliminate broadband because of economic pressure.”

“…policymakers must remain vigilant against forces, including misguided legislation and regulation, that may unintentionally make broadband less affordable and force the last to join the broadband generation to become the first that are forced to drop off.”

“…we are concerned about legislative proposals that purport to help consumers by limiting the business practices of wireless service providers, but could very well result in the elimination of carriers’ handset subsidies that bring advanced mobile technology within the budget of the less affluent. Legislation or regulation that could potentially raise prices by hundreds of dollars for broadband-capable wireless phones that are now subsidized would make it difficult for lower income Americans to purchase the most capable wireless devices … it [FCC] might consider requiring ‘a broadband impact’ statement for proposed legislation and regulation related to telecommunications policy and business strategies.”

“Significant numbers of Americans say they do not see the value of broadband and have no interest in subscribing to high-speed Internet. For this group, we have long urged digital literacy and IT skill programs to promote adoption … Increasing the availability of life-enhancing services such as telemedicine and distance learning as well as the expansion of telework options also increase the value of broadband and spur adoption.”

“We have long believed that this divide was partly the result of income disparity and digital literacy issues that could be addressed by the measures addressed previously … In light of the latest data, however, we are stepping up our own efforts to better understand the nature of the challenge and working through our community-based contacts to determine whether we can identify new developments or specific barriers that must be addressed in a targeted way as part of the national broadband strategy.”

About The Alliance for Digital Equality
Founded in 2007, The Alliance for Digital Equality is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization that serves to facilitate and ensure equal access to technology in underserved communities. The Alliance also serves as a bridge between policymakers and minority individuals in order to help the public understand how legislative and regulatory policies regarding new technologies can impact and empower their daily lives. For more information on The Alliance for Digital Equality, please visit http://www.alliancefordigitalequality.org .

SOURCE Alliance for Digital Equality


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