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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Calls Closing the Digital Divide “One of the Most Important Civil Rights Issues Of Our Time.”

(January 28, 2011) - Last week, the Minority Media and Telecom Council (MMTC) hosted its 2011 Broadband and Social Justice Summit. Among the many high-profile speakers at this conference, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called closing the Digital Divide for every socioeconomic group “one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” affecting individuals’ ability to apply for jobs and access healthcare. Connected Nation research shows that there are adoption gaps among every socioeconomic and demographic group, but these gaps are broader among particular racial/ethnic lines. For example, Connected Nation research shows that in the states/territories that CN serves, 28.3 million adults do not have home broadband service. This includes approximately 3.2 million African Americans, 6.2 million Hispanics, and 400,000 Native Americans. Altogether, minorities make up a much larger share of non-adopters than adopters.

The factor that remains consistent across all of these racial/ethnic groups is that the top barriers to broadband adoption are the lack of a home computer and the belief that they do not need home broadband service. This belief that home broadband is just an unnecessary luxury highlights the need for locally-driven digital literacy programs that help families see the importance of having home broadband service because, as Chairman Genachowski pointed out, “the costs of digital exclusion are rising.”

Chairman Genachowski’s comments can be found here:

To increase home broadband adoption in Ohio, Connect Ohio recently launched the
Every Citizen Online program that showcases the many educational, healthcare, economic, and communication benefits of home broadband adoption.

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation