I don’t think anyone is surprised by the two broadband-related studies released in the last several days. An FCC survey concluded “affordability” is one of the main reasons why nearly one-third of Americans do not have broadband at home. And the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found “lower income groups continue to lag in their internet use.” Don’t get me wrong. Research is helpful, but we need to move on to the solutions. Some people are. Like David Sutphen, co-chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance.
Stuphen recently said, “The new FCC study underscores the need to remain focused on closing the digital divide by addressing the American public’s attitudes about broadband and reinforces the IIA’s belief that digital literacy must be a key component of the National Broadband Strategy, due to Congress (this month). In a 2009 survey of 900 African Americans and Hispanics by Obama pollster Cornell Belcher, 43 percent of respondents cited not knowing how to use the Internet or not seeing the need for the Internet as the reason why they are not online, and 44 percent of those same minorities polled said they would be more likely to subscribe to Internet services if they were provided free lessons on how to use the technology. Bridging the digital divide and getting every American online should be our top priority—broadband Internet is the great enabler and the great equalizer.”
I’ll be interested to see if the FCC provides any training or lessons on how to use the technology. And, as the survey points out, there must be relevant content on the Internet. Otherwise, minorities will continue to find little reason to invest in Internet access, and the gap will not be closed. Who out there is creating thought-provoking content for the minority communities that is driving traffic to their sites every day, especially content that is inspiring and motivating our next generation?