Bridging the Digital Divide and Improving Opportunity with Broadband•
Today, economic opportunities, education and health care are growing increasingly reliant on technology and broadband connectivity. As the Internet brings better health services to rural areas and expands the marketplace for small businesses across the country, Broadband for America aspires to help more Americans adopt broadband services. We believe that this goal can become a reality through smart government policies and initiatives to support improved digital literacy.
Broadband for America (BFA) has more than 300 members including national and state-based community organizations, education and medical professionals, religious and minority groups, companies that provide Internet services and other stakeholders in the broadband Internet industry. BFA is committed to ensuring that every American has access to a high-quality Internet connection.
Broadband’s many benefits make it easy to understand why access and adoption levels have been increasing over time. A recent study by the Pew Research Internet Project, Home Broadband: 2013, reported that 80 percent of adults have home broadband or a smartphone. In contrast, only three percent of the population had a broadband connection in 2000. A new Pew report found that 90 percent of Internet users thought the Internet was a positive factor in their lives.
The U.S. has demonstrated progress in other areas of broadband performance. America has some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world. If U.S. states were ranked globally, five states and the District of Columbia would be in the top ten of the world’s average connection speeds. This accomplishment in speed has been facilitated by massive U.S. Internet infrastructure investment. In 2012 alone, broadband providers poured $68 billion into America’s networks. Today, consumers have access to fast broadband through many different technologies including cable, telephone, satellite, wireless and fiber optics.
We must work together to ensure all Americans have the skills and hardware to take advantage of these powerful networks. Through increasing digital literacy, offering courses on Internet usage, and providing affordable hardware to access the Internet, Americans who do not currently use the Internet could actively participate in, and reap the benefits of, joining this online community.
Boosting online participation also requires smart polices, including a light regulatory touch, to drive increased broadband deployment and competition. To facilitate growth in broadband, policies should account for the rapid evolution of communication technology. The goal of any regulation should be to enhance the lives of our citizens and strengthen our economy. To accomplish these goals, we believe that regulations should foster consumer choice, private sector investment, and innovation in an Internet ecosystem that is accessible, robust and open.
Broadband has the potential to be the great equalizer of our generation. This dynamic ecosystem can bring the same opportunities to users across the U.S., regardless of zip code. By strengthening digital literacy and helping increase adoption for low-income Americans, we can ensure everyone has the skills to take advantage of broadband’s benefits.
Opportunity Nation’s efforts to highlight the economic contributions of broadband will help demonstrate the benefits that this ecosystem can offer to Americans. BFA is proud to partner with Opportunity Nation, and looks forward to guiding our country into the future.