Expanding Internet Access: Broadband’s Role in Creating Jobs and Closing the Digital Divide


Author: Henry Rivera
Coverage Type: speech
Location:
Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), 3636 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20010, United States

The role of broadband in creating jobs and closing the digital divide is an issue that is critical to all of us.

In the few minutes I have with you, I would like to give you an overview of what’s at stake in this debate, why we need to care, and why now is the time to act. We, the Latino community, have many pressing challenges as we look for ways to grow the economy, grow jobs, make health care more affordable and accessible, and increase the quality of our educational system. While jobs are a priority for everyone, they are particularly critical for our community because unemployment among Latinos is above 11 percent, significantly higher than the national average. We are a community in crisis. And as we work on solutions, we need to keep in mind that broadband can help with each of these areas. Unfortunately, a gap exists between those who have access to information technology and the resources and skills necessary to effectively participate as digital citizens and those who do not. This is known in Washington as the “digital divide.” In a series of landmark studies beginning in 1995, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) first identified the Digital Divide and found that minority and low-income households were adopting computers and dial-up Internet access at much slower rates than other demographic groups. Unfortunately, this dynamic has not changed.

[Rivera is a partner at Wiley Rein, a law firm serving as counsel to Deutsche Telekom on the proposed sale of T-Mobile USA. He is also chairman of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, chairman of the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age, and General Counsel of the Benton Foundation]

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