National Broadband Plan Workshop: Low Adoption and Utilization - Importance of Broadband and Applications (see summary)

Low Adoption and Utilization - Importance of Broadband and Applications

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National Broadband Plan Workshop
Federal Communications Commission
August 19, 2009
1:00pm -- 3:30pm

Jennifer McKee
[email protected]
(202) 418-1590

Government Participants:

  • Brian David, Adoption and Usage Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative
  • Jessica Zufolo, Deputy Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Dr. Francine Jefferson, Evaluation Specialist, Technology Opportunities Program, National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Panel: Low Adoption and Utilization - Importance of Broadband and Applications

  • Charles M. Davidson, Director, Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, New York Law School
  • Valerie Fast Horse, Director of Information Technology, Coeur d'Alene Tribe
  • Douglas Levin, Deputy Executive Director, National Association of State Boards of Education
  • Staci Pies, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Skype (see prepared presentation)
  • Jay H. Sanders, M.D., President & CEO, Global Telemedicine Group (see prepared presenation)
  • Craig Settles, Founder & President, (see prepared presentation)
  • Dr. Sharon Strover, Philip G. Warner Regents Professor in Communication & Chair of the Radio-TV-Film Department, University of Texas at Austin (see prepared presentation)
  • Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, Vice President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and Director, Media and Technology Institute (see prepared presentation)

The goal of this workshop is to elicit information on the ways in which broadband services can benefit consumers, particularly those in groups that historically have been less likely to adopt or utilize broadband. Workshop participants will focus on the benefits to consumers of increased broadband use, and on how additional use of broadband by these consumers benefits the public interest. Participants will also identify applications that can increase broadband utilization among certain segments of the population. Information and data obtained in this workshop will enhance the Commission's understanding of ways to encourage consumers that have not yet fully embraced the technological advances available in today's broadband world to do so, and will be considered as the Commission develops the National Broadband Plan.

The following are some of the preliminary topics that will be covered at this workshop. The FCC is inviting suggestions.

  • How could broadband be beneficial to consumers in groups that have been least likely to adopt and use broadband technology? How is the lack of adoption or utilization being felt?
    • Senior citizens.
    • Low-income consumers
    • Consumers living in rural areas
    • Members of minority races or ethnicities
    • Members of tribal communities
    • Consumers with less formal education
    • Children specifically, among many of the above categories
  • What industries or sectors (small and medium businesses primarily) tend to under-utilize broadband?
    • What is the impact of this under-utilization?
    • Are there ways (policy, law, private sector initiatives, etc.) to address this that the Commission should consider incorporating in the National Broadband Plan?
  • What applications currently exist or could exist in the future to encourage broadband usage by these groups?

What some are already telling the FCC about broadband adoption...

National Caucus and Center On Black Aged, Inc
As the FCC establishes a national broadband strategy, NCBA hopes that the Commission will strive to bring broadband to all Americans with low barriers for adoption. Our constituency is among the group of "low-adopters" of broadband technology. Connected Nation finds the average broadband adoption rate of all Americans to be at 50%. However, 45% of African Americans and a mere 25% of those over the age of 65 have adopted broadband at home. These figures illustrate the need for affordable broadband and the importance of informing low-adopting demographic groups of its benefits.

US Internet Industry Associations comments filed in association with NetLiteracy
It will be necessary to complete the buildout of the broadband infrastructure in order to gain a sufficient subscriber base to further reduce consumer costs, and to reach the 10 percent of Americans who are not using broadband because of issues of price and availability. But the broader issue is adoption of broadband by those who have access available and still cannot use the Internet for a variety of reasons.

This position paper proposes a community-based approach to achieving ubiquitous adoption of broadband, based on five programs to:

  • Create a national Digital Inclusion initiative to drive broadband adoption
  • Convene a national conference and website to coordinate community efforts- the major stakeholders should e included in working groups that include public private and non profit sectors.
  • Coordinate targets and goals, identify funding priorities, identify and create "best of class" solutions that will serve as a resource data base for local communities utilizing public and private funding to increase computer and Internet literacy, and present digital inclusion structure examples that will provide the communities a menu of alternatives from which to choose or build upon to best meet their constituencies' requirements.
  • Solicit public comment
  • Create community center education programs to communicate the value proposition for broadband through traditional media should reach down to those that are not net literate. Both local and national media should play a role in this campaign
    • A top down media campaign must reach out to individuals who are not net literate
    • A bottom up campaign should then reach out to senior and community centers.
      • Create a flexible and customizable curriculum for use in each community center
      • Provide for a "Student Net Literacy Corps,"
      • Provide computers to low-income Americans who do not have them - A Computer Re Tasking Program.
      • Either through donations from private citizens or computer companies - businesses could receive tax credits for donating old computers