President Obama Makes Milestone Visit to Island; Puerto Rico Broadband Task Force Holds Meeting

Today, President Barack Obama is making the first official visit to the island of Puerto Rico by a US president in 50 years.

President Obama’s trip is bringing emphasis to the new economy and the importance of broadband, technology, and innovation – goals that the newly created Puerto Rico Broadband Task Force is tackling.

In his prepared remarks, President Obama calls out the importance of broadband:

“(W)e’ve been trying to make sure that every family on the island can find work and make a living and provide for their children. …That’s why we’re increasing access to broadband and investing in education. …We’re giving Puerto Ricans the tools they need to build their own economic futures.”??

The day before the President’s visit, the Puerto Rico Broadband Task Force held its second meeting in San Juan with a focus on preparing for the knowledge economy through broadband.

One of the outcomes of the task force’s efforts is going to be a strategic broadband plan for sustainable technology expansion on the island.

Already, Connect Puerto Rico is leading the effort to increase technology use and availability across the island. Currently, Connect Puerto Rico is studying and assisting the government in its effort to make technology a key driver of the economy, conducting residential and business technology assessments on the island.

According to these studies, only 31% of all island residents subscribe to home broadband service. By comparison, surveys show that 67% of American households subscribe to home broadband service.

Contributing to the low adoption rate is the lack of access to a home computer. Island-wide, only 55% of all residents own a home computer. This translates into more than one million adults without a home computer, with more than half of those residents saying they do not believe they need a computer.

On the business front, an estimated 12,000 Puerto Rico businesses do not use broadband. For broadband-connected businesses in Puerto Rico, median annual revenues are $200,000 more than for businesses that don’t use high-speed Internet.

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