Posts Taged broadband-access

The City of Boston and Comcast make broadband Affordable for Low Income residents.

Comcast partnered with the City of Boston recently to provide low cost Internet service to students who graduated from one of the federally funded Computer training programs offered in the city. The students will get the service for 10.95 the first year and 15.95 the second year. The program will allow the newly trained students to afford Internet access that was previously out of reach. The combination of training and access is a great step towards independence for them. You can read the full story here http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2011/02/19/putting_web_within_reach/

Do Increased Numbers in Broadband Access Among Black Homes Mean we are Moving in the Right Direction?

The Latest Pew Report show a pretty significant increase in  broadband access in black homes over 2009. So much so that the New York Times online did a story about it here.  While my first reaction is that of excitement I want to make sure we don’t get too confident. While the growth is significant, our numbers pale in comparison to mainstream America. More and more people are beginning the realize the importance of having access  to the Internet.

In the NY times article it states:

“the fact that a greater percentage of African-Americans say lack of broadband access is a disadvantage. particularly for obtaining career information, “speaks to a recognition within the African-American community that digital connectivity is essential, even — and perhaps especially — during hard economic times.”

This recognition needs to be spread even further within the African American and Hispanic communities.  The current increase can not lead to complacency. The value  proposition in the areas of Job creation, education and Healthcare information can continue to bring more minorities online if we make sure it’s communicated. So the next time you hear or read something about the growth of broadband adoption among minorities just  say ” That’s great but there is still a ways to go!”

What if …?

The last few days have seen the best and worst of the Net Neutrality debate.

First, I encourage you to watch this video on CNET — http://cnettv.cnet.com/net-neutrality/9742-1_53-50091412.html?tag=mncol;2n .  You will see two experts do a superb job summarizing the Net Neutrality issue.   You may not agree with every point (I didn’t), but you will have a far better grasp of  the topic. I do agree with Maggie Reardon of CNET and author Larry Downes that the issue has been unnecessarily “politicized.”   There is no evidence  that ISPs might attempt to control content over their networks; in fact, there are tremendous disincentives in place to discourage and prevent that from happening.  The duo also a good job of outlining the proposal that Google and Verizon has offered toward a compromise.

Meanwhile, precisely while the CNET interview was taking place, there was a rally at Google’s headquarters by activists and their recruits to protest the Google/Verizon proposal.   This episode is described by a journalist embedded with the protesters  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/08/the-siege-of-google.ars,   It is obvious they were grandstanding, at least as well as 50 or so people could do.   Check out this, for example:

“We had a bunch of papers which had, like, talking points so that we could all be on the same page,” explained the net neutrality activist leaning over the front seat of our chartered bus. “But we can’t find them.” Laughter erupted from the rest of the vehicle. Nobody cared. It was Friday afternoon. And after all, this was San Francisco, where two or more people being on the same page about anything is a misdemeanor.

I write this blog post after a long week, and these two examples of discourse leave me wondering:  What if every ounce of energy, every creative brainstorm session, every dollar, every speech, every rally, every minute that has been devoted to the pseudo issue of Net Neutrality could instead have been aimed at the all-too real problem of broadband access in America’s inner cities, small towns, and low-income neighborhoods?  What if?

The Right Direction? Let’s Be Sure

This post was originally posted on Blackweb20.com

There have been reports recently touting the growth in the use of the mobile web by African Americans and English–speaking Latinos. Research by Pew Internet & American Life Project found African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos continue to be among the most active users of the mobile web.

About 64 percent of African-Americans access the Internet from a laptop or mobile phone, a seven-point increase in just one year. Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87 percent vs. 80 percent) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of features compared with white users.

You can read the report here. Many have eluded that this show the digital divide is closing. I’m not so sure I can start celebrating yet. Don’t get me wrong I am always happy to see increased usage of technologies by minorities but at the same time I always push to make sure that any group understands the real ways that access to Internet can benefit them. Are they checking for vital health care info they otherwise had no access to or are they checking the latest celebrity gossip. Did they gain access to all the free education information available or download some music?

Yes, the Internet is a great new medium for entertainment but in order it to truly empower us and for the digital divide to truly close, it has to be a means of improving and equalizing access to education, health, and career advancement. Don’t let reports like this give you a false sense of satisfaction. We must continue to educate and push for adoption. And once we reach those goals we then must push for people to use this access to really improve their lives and the lives of the people around them. So as we LOL, ROFL, OMG and BRB to our friends. Let’s also push people for the right level of awareness of what’s available to them so they can GTD in the right areas.

Speak Up Now While You Have The Chance And For the People Who Can’t

As we approach the Thursday, January 14, 2010 deadline to comment on the FCC’s proposed rules for Network Neutrality, I’m reminded of the marbled halls of the FCC and the relative frenzy that has consumed our nation’s capital, and all of the politicians, lawyers and lobbyists who are involved in this contentious issue. But really, my mind is somewhere else today.

Today, I’m thinking of the young woman in Detroit who has a dream of a better life, the young man in Chicago who has an idea that will uplift his community, and the inner-city entrepreneurs, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, who know that their vision can change the world. It’s not just make-believe, these people are real, and there are many more like them from every city town, borough and corner of the country that you can think of. What is the common thread? None of them can make their dreams happen without broadband access. But that same broadband access that is so essential to their growth and success will be threatened if the government enacts policies that create greater costs for families, especially low-income ones, to obtain and use those services, or if those policies erode the incentives to invest in the networks upon which we so heavily rely.

The FCC, through this link, http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=izmxi, provides an opportunity for public comments on this issue for those who want to weigh in on network regulation, or the so-called “net neutrality” proceeding. You are certainly free to make up your own mind after careful consideration and research, but I personally can’t agree with any set of policies that could possibly increase the digital divide, or make it more different for minorities and low-income people to fully participate in the social and economic life of this country. Over the past few months, I’ve made my opinions clear on this issue, and I intend to do so for the foreseeable future, so if you are unclear on the issue or have questions for me, drop me a note in the comment thread.

Here’s my final thought for the day: Is it just me, or does anyone else see the irony that low-income people and minorities – the folks who could benefit the most from broadband – are less likely to be able to weigh-in on this issue because they lack broadband access in the first place? Why does is seem like the FCC is favoring the opinions of bloggers and people who clearly have broadband connections, and why is the system they’ve set up likely to disregard or further disenfranchise the voices of the people who really need the services enabled by high-speed Internet connections? Our focus needs to be on creating opportunities for broadband adoption and use, not in limited the terms of access so much so that adoption and use or made more unaffordable for the people who need it the most.  Tell me your thoughts.  I’m looking forward to the conversation…