FCC Summit on Closing the Digital Divide
The FCC held a summit yesterday on broadband adoption, lessons learned over the past few years and best practices that can continue helping to close the digital divide among communities that remain unconnected. In his keynote remarks, Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Communications and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce noted the advancements made in broadband deployment over the past decade and the importance of placing greater emphasis on broadband adoption. As an industry that has led America’s broadband evolution, we know that the only way to close this gap is by focusing on the real reasons that Americans have yet to subscribe. And as Assistant Secretary Strickling and many others on the panels pointed out, tailoring programs to the unique needs of demographic groups and individuals through community-based programs is critical to overcoming one of the leading factors: broadband relevance. Adoption programs must help non-adopters make the connection between broadband and an improved quality of life. Cable companies have built robust networks that reach 93 percent of American homes, developed community partnerships in cities and towns across the U.S. and launched programs that offered steeply discounted services to low-income families. These efforts have made a big difference but more needs to be done. Last week we shared a graphic with our new data hashtag #broaddata showing how it took broadband 10 years to reach 50 percent penetration in America. This is an impressive number, especially when you consider it took 50 years to do the same with the telephone. But more important than reaching the first 50 percent is making sure that everyone can get access to affordable, critical broadband technology. Cable companies in the farthest corners of America are continuing to develop creative partnerships with community groups and other organizations to help educate families about how the Internet can open their world to new opportunities. Our sampling of Broadband Success Stories highlights a few of these projects. Broadband is the transformative technology of our time. Working in collaboration with the government and community partners, cable providers will continue our effort to make sure that all Americans have the opportunity to be connected.