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Using the Internet has become customary, and a daily necessity that many Americans take for granted. High-speed broadband Internet service is an indispensible tool when studying, conducting a job search, getting healthcare, and making payments, just to name a few. It is fundamental to many everyday responsibilities and has greatly enhanced the way we communicate with our friends, families and communities.
The number of Americans using the Internet has steadily increased since high-speed broadband connections became the norm more than a decade ago, but 15 percent of adults still are not connected, according to recent research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Even more concerning is that Internet adoption among low-income households is lower, at only 54 percent for households with an income of $30,000 or less.
New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke recently about the importance of broadband adoption, identifying “accessibility” as one of the key elements to the public interest work of the Commission. “There is nothing more fundamental to the FCC’s work than ensuring every American has access to our wired and wireless networks,” Wheeler stated.
To help close this digital divide, cable companies in hundreds of communities across the nation are tackling the Internet adoption challenge head on through partnerships with local organizations that can provide low-cost computers and Internet access and digital skills training. Over 250,000 low-income families have already been connected. That’s only part of the way to getting all Americans online but the experience shows that efforts that directly address Internet adoption barriers can be successful.
Cable operators plan further enhancements to broadband adoption programs to increase participation even more by increasing speed, streamlining the enrollment process, expanding eligibility criteria, developing an online application module, and reducing the cost.
Bridging the digital divide is a complex issue driven by many factors, but cable companies are committed to doing their part to connect all Americans.