Originally published: December 15, 2010
Last updated: December 15, 2010 - 7:25pm
[Commentary] Our nation’s digital divide has made the recent economic downturn worse because minorities who lack access to broadband services face significant disadvantages in the job market. While not a panacea for the current state of the economy, broadband is certainly an industry that America can leverage to create high-paying jobs, stimulate the economy, and close the digital divide.
Closing the digital divide is important to our economic recovery because leaving minority communities behind will only increase the disparity between America’s haves and have nots. As the Federal Communications Commission begins to implement the National Broadband Plan, it should keep in mind that all Americans, particularly disenfranchised populations, stand to benefit from a broadband policy that fosters a stronger, more robust broadband industry. Broadband is quickly becoming the preferred path to finding work, obtaining an education, managing finances, and the list goes on.
Regardless of what the FCC does with network neutrality at its upcoming December meeting and regardless of what Congress may do in reaction, with so much at risk, the FCC, Congress and the Administration should make every effort to ensure that those investing in the broadband industry have the opportunity to grow and innovate for years to come. Only then will we be able to insure a place for all Americans in the economic recovery that's sure to come.
[Henry Rivera served as the nation’s first Hispanic FCC Commissioner from 1981-1985. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, General Counsel for the Benton Foundation, and as a Partner at Wiley Rein.]
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