Members of the FCC’s Omnibus Broadband Initiative including, (L to R) Blair Levin, Executive Director; Brian David, Program Director; and Elise Kohn, Adoption Director address questions during Tuesday’s Digital Inclusion Summit.
The Federal Communications Commission identified, in the 2009 Broadband Service Capability Survey, a significant factor in the digital inclusion equation – that non-adopters face multiple barriers to adoption. Cost relief works effectively for many non-adopters, but only when accompanied by training programs to bolster their digital skills and information about content that is relevant to their lives.
Connected Nation has proactively addressed this need by designing programs to help vulnerable populations overcome top barriers to adoption – broadband awareness and training, computer ownership, and subscription affordability.
The FCC underscores the importance of public-private partnerships to increase broadband use at the local level. We strongly agree. Through public-private partnerships, Connected Nation has completed eight comprehensive statewide broadband maps and launched development of 13 more, while donating over 6,000 computers to schools, libraries, and community centers and formed local technology teams in more than 300 counties.
“You and I both know the barriers that face low income households – from the cost of buying computers to how much it costs for monthly internet service. Federally-assisted housing offers a platform to reduce these barriers through local outreach and training that educates people on specific ways that technology can improve their lives, and on how to use it. Through digital literacy training to get people comfortable with technology. And through workforce development and financial literacy training so that they can get the most out of it,” Donovan said during the summit. “The Federal government can’t do this alone. We need to work in partnership with nonprofits and private industry.”
Connected Nation, through its ConnectKentucky program, will soon establish such a project. In April, ConnectKentucky will use a Kentucky Housing Corp. grant to provide low-income residents with computers and training in the redeveloped Equestrian View neighborhood of Lexington’s East End. Lexmark is donating printers.
By establishing such a program, Equestrian View residents will be provided with the opportunity to explore the world outside of their immediate community. The benefits — from educational to economical — are tremendous and we are encouraged the FCC’s national broadband plan addresses the importance of these programs.
“We applaud the FCC’s efforts to positively impact the digital inclusion imperative in the National Broadband Plan and we will continue to collaborate with members of the nonprofit sector and the ICT industry to reduce the barriers to broadband adoption. We proudly join our partners on a letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski expressing our support for the broadband adoption recommendations proposed today,” said Brian R. Mefford, Connected Nation’s chief executive officer.
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