Earlier this month, IIA Strategic Counsel Henry M. Rivera spoke as the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement’s Leadership Development & Educational Conference. After his speech, he sat down with James Ferré of Caribbean Business to talk about mobile broadband adoption in the Hispanic community, and the roll the planned merger of AT&T and T-Mobile can play in closing the digital divide:
In 2008, Hispanic Internet adoption increased to 54%, while overall U.S. Internet access was 69%. When it comes to mobile Internet, however, Hispanics are among the most avid adopters. Their 53% rate of mobile-Internet adoption trails that of African Americans, but is far ahead of whites (33%), according to a study by the Hispanic Institute.
“That is why wireless [broadband Internet] is so important for Hispanics,” Rivera said.
Full text of Rivera’s speech at the Leadership Development & Educational Conference is available here.
Often, we humans seem to get a bit beyond ourselves. We invent a new product, a new technology, a new way of seeing the world and before too long it seems we’re playing catch up with the inventions of our wondrous imaginations. It’s hard to believe it was just eight years ago that the BlackBerry smartphone first took the business world by storm. And it was a mere four years later, Apple’s iPhone would bring the power of the smartphone to the masses.
Today, smartphone adoption is increasing at an unprecedented rate. According to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 35 percent, or one-third, of American adults now own smartphones. That’s a lot of adoption in a short amount of time, and it shows no signs of abating.
But, while the allure of the gadget certainly drives the desire for smartphones, it’s the underlying infrastructure that powers this explosive growth. That infrastructure is what supports mobile broadband, allowing access to the Internet minus dependence on wires and desktop computers. The unifying goal of ubiquitous, transformative access to the Internet gets closer to reality, particularly as long as innovation and necessary investments from the private sector continue – taxpayers cannot afford to foot the bill for infrastructure build-out on their own.
Ever since the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) first identified America’s growing technology adoption gap in 1995, there has been much warranted concern over the “digital divide”. But now, thanks to the expansion of mobile broadband, dramatic progress is being made. According to Pew’s study, 44 percent of African Americans and Latinos — two groups consistently on the losing end of the digital divide — are now smartphone users. And among that group, 38 percent mostly use their phones to access the Internet.
And yet, access is only half the story. The sequel relates to what gets done with that access. It’s big fun to use your smartphone to download music and videos, sporting events, and to text your friends. Youth of little or no privivilege need to better understand that access to the Internet can indeed transform their lives and prospects for the future. Those smartphone gadgets on their hips or in their pockets are grounded in technology that on a grander scale helps doctors save patients, business owners create successful businesses, teachers better educate and train their students, and job seekers better position themselves to win the jobs of the future.
In short, as we continue to close the “digital divide” through increased deployment and adoption of mobile broadband, let us also increase our focus on the transformative power of the Internet to help close the “opportunity divide.” As we applaud our brown and black youth for hooking up with the Internet, let’s not neglect to ask “So whatcha going to do with it?”
Politic 365’s Elesha Barnette reports on a new documentary project produced by the nonprofit organization One Economy, which works to connect unserved and underserved communities to technology:
“In the Hive” is the newest film from veteran writer, producer and director Robert Townsend, and it that tells the true story of Vivian Sanders, a cook at an alternative school who took on the responsibility of educating boys that no one else would.
Actors Loretta Devine, Michael Clarke Duncan and Vivica A. Fox star in “In The Hive,” which takes its name from a North Carolina school that focuses on technology. Newcomer Jonathan McDaniel stars as Xtra Keys, a gang member who is in and out of prison. The story is about his “last chance.”
In a commentary piece for the The Legislator, a publication from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Florida State Representative Mia L. Jones writes about the positive impacts of the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile for consumers:
What I like best about this merger is the impact it will have on technologically disenfranchised communities. Currently, the U.S. ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption, and 25th in terms of average Internet connection speeds. The merger will help improve the U.S. ranking in broadband adoption by increasing mobile broadband availability in small, rural communities. This will directly help achieve the FCC and President Obama’s goal to “connect every part of America to the digital age.”
Rep. Jones’ full commentary is worth checking it out. You can download a PDF of the August issue of The Legislator here.
Last week, IIA Strategic Counsel Henry M. Rivera spoke at the 2011 Educational Conference of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Below are his remarks. — IIA
It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here with you at LCLAA’s educational conference.
I did a little research on LCLAA and found that since its inception, LCLAA has worked tirelessly to advance the social, economic, political, human and civil rights of all Latinos and has provided a strong voice for Latino working families nationally. So I’m honored that i’ve been asked to address this distinguished organization.
I feel some kinship with LCLAA because throughout my career, beginning with my appointment to the FCC as the agency’s first Hispanic commissioner, I have had the privilege of advocating for policies designed to both promote and preserve equal opportunity and civil rights in the communications industries, and to close the digital divide. So I have long appreciated the magnitude of the challenges that LCLAA faces.
Following my brief remarks, you will hear from a distinguished panel on the role of broadband in creating jobs and closing the digital divide, an issue that is critical to all of us. So 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 right time to act.
In an editorial for The Detroit News, Lewis N. Dodak and Rick Johnson, both former speakers of the Michigan House of Representatives, make an impassioned case for guaranteeing everyone in America has access to broadband:
Wireless broadband is more than just our ability to download music. It allows public safety workers to exchange information in an emergency. It provides small business owners tools they need to compete with corporations. The 26 million Americans who lack broadband access are, in a sense, denied an equal shot at the American dream.
Our Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons has penned an op-ed for Tennessee’s Tri-State Defender on increasing access to broadband for minorities. Here’s a taste:
According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project study, almost two-thirds of African Americans and Latinos access the Internet through a mobile device or laptop, more than any other group. These devices require wireless broadband and unless the Federal government and America’s wireless phone companies strengthen the telecommunications networks Americans use, the information overload on the system will slow Internet use to a crawl. For those people still waiting for high-speed wireless access in rural communities, the wait could get even longer.
Over at Mashable, Zachary Sniderman has information on a new device from Intel that can help bridge the digital divide around the globe:
Intel has created a low-cost, high-function laptop designed to get beat up, dropped and deliver education to children around the world.
The Intel-powered convertible classmate PC is about the size and weight of two iPads stacked on top of one another with a soft rubber backing and carry handle. The idea was to get computers into young hands to connect them to a larger world and improve the learning experience in global classrooms, explains Wayne Grant, the director of research and planning for Intel’s Education Market Platforms Group.
The new laptop is expected to cost between $400-$500. While this is more expensive than the One Laptop Per Child project, Intel includes a software suite intended to help educate children — and teachers — how to get the most out of their new PC.
Any reasonable application of the public interest standard will find AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile to be a win-win. The deal expands broadband availability, increases investment, enhances network capacity and better serves those historically disenfranchised by lack of options in rural areas and communities of color.
Despite this, many false and uninformed mischaracterizations regarding the merger were entered into the record for competitive or ideological reasons in the first set of public comments submitted to the FCC. In our reply comments, we dispelled a number of those myths, including:
MYTH: The merger would be bad for broadband competition.
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would enhance competition for broadband services.
MYTH: The merger would disserve rural communities.
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would give 55 million more Americans access to LTE broadband services than the status quo.
MYTH: The merger would be bad for wireless prices and competition.
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would continue a decade-long trend of falling wireless prices, expanding services and robust competition.
MYTH: The merger would reduce investment in broadband infrastructure and cut jobs.
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would increase infrastructure investment by $8 billion for starters.
MYTH: The merger would undermine innovators and web-based entrepreneurs.
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would meaningfully enhance the advanced wireless infrastructure so essential to next-generation mobile services.
MYTH: The merger would maintain the persistent “digital divide.”
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would accelerate the pace with which smart phones and wireless services are reducing race-and-diversity-based gaps in broadband adoption and usage.
MYTH: The merger would be bad for wireless consumers’ quality of service.
REALITY: Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would be the best thing that could happen for wireless consumers’ quality of service.
You can read our full reply comments, including supporting information, at the FCC website.
Unfortunately, while many mainstream small and medium-sized businesses have benefited from using mobile technology to connect with customers and suppliers, and to monitor their competition, far more – especially in the African American community – face hurdles when trying to harness this critical tool.
Why is that?
In part because many still lack access to it – especially in underserved urban and rural areas. Also, many who have access sometimes lack the digital skills needed to effectively use it.
Josh Smith of the National Journalreports Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) has penned a bill that would help subsidize Internet service for underserved communities:
“Income should not hinder the ability of hard-working American families to attain broadband services that have become a necessity, not a luxury in our technologically driven economy. If you don’t have it, you are simply at a competitive disadvantage,” Matsui, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said in a statement.
The groups cited several specific areas in which commitments by AT&T as part of the merger process are likely to help Latinos. In strong terms, the groups urged the FCC to consider the combined companies’ commitment to expanding culturally sensitive education programs and robust internet adoption programs. Hispanic Americans have a special interest in these since Latino digital literacy rates are far behind the national average, especially for Spanish-speaking families. This acquisition, they write, “could be a catalyst for opening up high speed wireless broadband networks to underserved communities.”
In order to highlight some of the many ways increasing broadband access can benefit America’s rural communities, we’ve put together this handy infographic. Sources and an embed code are available at the bottom.
At The Huffington Post, the prolific Navarrow Wright, CTO of InteractiveOne (and an IIA Broadband Ambassador), has penned an op-ed on the importance of not letting government policy slow efforts to close America’s digital divide. After describing how access to technology radically changed his life for the better, Wright turns his attention to the benefits of the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile:
The benefits of this merger, both to underserved communities and to budding digital entrepreneurs, are innumerable. Not only will the increased coverage allow others to become involved in applications development who may otherwise have lacked sufficient coverage to do so, it will also supply services to network operators and assist in network management.
It is my hope that the power of the merged companies, with extended reach and larger area of deployment, will encourage further innovation and inspire entrepreneurship among those within underserved communities.
Our new co-chair, Jamal Simmons, has a column in Fierce Telecom today highlighting positive steps America can make to reach the goal of universal broadband. Here’s a taste:
For African Americans and Hispanics who use their cell phones to access the Internet more than any other group, traffic jams on the cellular onramp to what we used to call the information superhighway are just as frustrating. In just over a year, lawmakers, thought leaders and industry players have brought our nation significantly closer to easing that congestion by connecting every American with high-speed Internet at home and on the road. The five steps that have had, and will have, the greatest impact on achieving universal broadband are as follows…
At Internet Evolution, Andrew Keen writes about his trip to Paris to attend e-G8, a technological summit bringing Internet experts together with leaders of the G8 nations. According to Keen, the big takeaways from the summit were 1) The market, rather than the government, should drive the digital economy, and 2) Underprivileged communities are in dire need of access to broadband, which market solutions can provide. Writes Keen:
[The joining of AT&T and T-Mobile] shows the power of the free market to bring the Internet economy to communities. The faster speeds, more reliable performance, and ability to support new real-time services of AT&T’s 4G LTE coverage will be of massive benefit to those millions of Americans in isolated communities, helping to deliver key education, healthcare, and other essential social services to them.
Education and healthcare will particularly benefit from 4G LTE’s advanced video streaming capabilities, which will enable increased access to improved distance learning and telemedicine programs. For small-town Americans, mostly starved of world-class educational and medical programs, such access is critical, opening up their citizens to the most cutting-edge video-streamed technologies in patient care and e-learning.
Keen also examines the economic impact increased broadband investment — including the $8 billion AT&T has said it will invest to build out its 4G LTE network to more of rural America — will have on America’s economy:
Such investment is key to the competitiveness of America in the 21st century digital economy. Not only will these increased wireless and broadband services result in productivity gains that industry analysts estimate will have surpassed $400 billion by 2016, but they will also help in realizing the National Broadband Plan’s goal of universal broadband adoption for all Americans by 2014.
Local station WDAM aired a report on the state of broadband access in Mississippi. The results weren’t encouraging. From an article on the station’s website:
According to a recent poll, 77 percent of Americans have access to the Internet, but in Mississippi, that number drops to 59 percent - the lowest in the United States, and of those numbers about a third have access to high-speed Internet.
This is an issue which concerns experts like Homer Coffman, the chief information officer at the University of Southern Mississippi.
“Everything now is becoming digital,” he said. “Everything we are as Americans is in archives, it is all zeroes and ones now. The average teenager spends 31 hours a week on the Internet, so the question is the people out there in the rural areas that don’t have this access, are they at a disadvantage? They are growing up differently, they are going to act differently. It is going to be an impact parents have to consider about that child’s future.”
Here’s the station’s broadcast report:
While Mississippi is the state with the lowest ranking in broadband access, it’s sadly not the only state that needs help. The sooner we can connect underserved communities, the stronger the economy — and America as a whole — will be.
Broadband access has extensive implications for Hispanic Americans, including closing the gap in health disparities, reducing the digital divide and gaining access to quality education and job opportunities.
AGREEMENT BETWEEN USER AND Internet Innovation Alliance
The Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site is comprised of various Web pages operated by Internet Innovation Alliance.
The Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site is offered to you conditioned on your acceptance without modification of the terms, conditions, and notices contained herein. Your use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site constitutes your agreement to all such terms, conditions, and notices.
Internet Innovation Alliance reserves the right to change the terms, conditions, and notices under which the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site is offered, including but not limited to the charges associated with the use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site.
LINKS TO THIRD PARTY SITES
The Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site may contain links to other Web Sites (“Linked Sites”). The Linked Sites are not under the control of Internet Innovation Alliance and Internet Innovation Alliance is not responsible for the contents of any Linked Site, including without limitation any link contained in a Linked Site, or any changes or updates to a Linked Site. Internet Innovation Alliance is not responsible for webcasting or any other form of transmission received from any Linked Site. Internet Innovation Alliance is providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Internet Innovation Alliance of the site or any association with its operators.
NO UNLAWFUL OR PROHIBITED USE
As a condition of your use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site, you warrant to Internet Innovation Alliance that you will not use the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site for any purpose that is unlawful or prohibited by these terms, conditions, and notices. You may not use the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site in any manner which could damage, disable, overburden, or impair the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site or interfere with any other party’s use and enjoyment of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site. You may not obtain or attempt to obtain any materials or information through any means not intentionally made available or provided for through the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Sites.
USE OF COMMUNICATION SERVICES
The Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site may contain bulletin board services, chat areas, news groups, forums, communities, personal web pages, calendars, and/or other message or communication facilities designed to enable you to communicate with the public at large or with a group (collectively, “Communication Services”), you agree to use the Communication Services only to post, send and receive messages and material that are proper and related to the particular Communication Service. By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using a Communication Service, you will not:
Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.
Publish, post, upload, distribute or disseminate any inappropriate, profane, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent or unlawful topic, name, material or information.
Upload files that contain software or other material protected by intellectual property laws (or by rights of privacy of publicity) unless you own or control the rights thereto or have received all necessary consents.
Upload files that contain viruses, corrupted files, or any other similar software or programs that may damage the operation of another’s computer.
Advertise or offer to sell or buy any goods or services for any business purpose, unless such Communication Service specifically allows such messages.
Conduct or forward surveys, contests, pyramid schemes or chain letters.
Download any file posted by another user of a Communication Service that you know, or reasonably should know, cannot be legally distributed in such manner.
Falsify or delete any author attributions, legal or other proper notices or proprietary designations or labels of the origin or source of software or other material contained in a file that is uploaded.
Restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying the Communication Services.
Violate any code of conduct or other guidelines which may be applicable for any particular Communication Service.
Harvest or otherwise collect information about others, including e-mail addresses, without their consent.
Violate any applicable laws or regulations.
Internet Innovation Alliance has no obligation to monitor the Communication Services. However, Internet Innovation Alliance reserves the right to review materials posted to a Communication Service and to remove any materials in its sole discretion. Internet Innovation Alliance reserves the right to terminate your access to any or all of the Communication Services at any time without notice for any reason whatsoever.
Internet Innovation Alliance reserves the right at all times to disclose any information as necessary to satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request, or to edit, refuse to post or to remove any information or materials, in whole or in part, in Internet Innovation Alliance’s sole discretion.
Always use caution when giving out any personally identifying information about yourself or your children in any Communication Service. Internet Innovation Alliance does not control or endorse the content, messages or information found in any Communication Service and, therefore, Internet Innovation Alliance specifically disclaims any liability with regard to the Communication Services and any actions resulting from your participation in any Communication Service. Managers and hosts are not authorized Internet Innovation Alliance spokespersons, and their views do not necessarily reflect those of Internet Innovation Alliance.
Materials uploaded to a Communication Service may be subject to posted limitations on usage, reproduction and/or dissemination. You are responsible for adhering to such limitations if you download the materials.
MATERIALS PROVIDED TO Internet Innovation Alliance OR POSTED AT ANY Internet Innovation Alliance WEB SITE
Internet Innovation Alliance does not claim ownership of the materials you provide to Internet Innovation Alliance (including feedback and suggestions) or post, upload, input or submit to any Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site or its associated services (collectively “Submissions”). However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting your Submission you are granting Internet Innovation Alliance, its affiliated companies and necessary sublicensees permission to use your Submission in connection with the operation of their Internet businesses including, without limitation, the rights to: copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate and reformat your Submission; and to publish your name in connection with your Submission.
No compensation will be paid with respect to the use of your Submission, as provided herein. Internet Innovation Alliance is under no obligation to post or use any Submission you may provide and may remove any Submission at any time in Internet Innovation Alliance’s sole discretion.
By posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting your Submission you warrant and represent that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to your Submission as described in this section including, without limitation, all the rights necessary for you to provide, post, upload, input or submit the Submissions.
THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, AND SERVICES INCLUDED IN OR AVAILABLE THROUGH THE Internet Innovation Alliance WEB SITE MAY INCLUDE INACCURACIES OR TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS. CHANGES ARE PERIODICALLY ADDED TO THE INFORMATION HEREIN. Internet Innovation Alliance AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAY MAKE IMPROVEMENTS AND/OR CHANGES IN THE Internet Innovation Alliance WEB SITE AT ANY TIME. ADVICE RECEIVED VIA THE Internet Innovation Alliance WEB SITE SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON FOR PERSONAL, MEDICAL, LEGAL OR FINANCIAL DECISIONS AND YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE TAILORED TO YOUR SITUATION.
Internet Innovation Alliance AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE Internet Innovation Alliance WEB SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, ALL SUCH INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND. Internet Innovation Alliance AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS HEREBY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS WITH REGARD TO THIS INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS, INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.
Internet Innovation Alliance reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate your access to the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site and the related services or any portion thereof at any time, without notice. GENERAL To the maximum extent permitted by law, this agreement is governed by the laws of the State of Washington, U.S.A. and you hereby consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of courts in King County, Washington, U.S.A. in all disputes arising out of or relating to the use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site. Use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site is unauthorized in any jurisdiction that does not give effect to all provisions of these terms and conditions, including without limitation this paragraph. You agree that no joint venture, partnership, employment, or agency relationship exists between you and Internet Innovation Alliance as a result of this agreement or use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site. Internet Innovation Alliance’s performance of this agreement is subject to existing laws and legal process, and nothing contained in this agreement is in derogation of Internet Innovation Alliance’s right to comply with governmental, court and law enforcement requests or requirements relating to your use of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site or information provided to or gathered by Internet Innovation Alliance with respect to such use. If any part of this agreement is determined to be invalid or unenforceable pursuant to applicable law including, but not limited to, the warranty disclaimers and liability limitations set forth above, then the invalid or unenforceable provision will be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that most closely matches the intent of the original provision and the remainder of the agreement shall continue in effect. Unless otherwise specified herein, this agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the user and Internet Innovation Alliance with respect to the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site and it supersedes all prior or contemporaneous communications and proposals, whether electronic, oral or written, between the user and Internet Innovation Alliance with respect to the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site. A printed version of this agreement and of any notice given in electronic form shall be admissible in judicial or administrative proceedings based upon or relating to this agreement to the same extent an d subject to the same conditions as other business documents and records originally generated and maintained in printed form. It is the express wish to the parties that this agreement and all related documents be drawn up in English.
COPYRIGHT AND TRADEMARK NOTICES:
All contents of the Internet Innovation Alliance Web Site are: and/or its suppliers. All rights reserved.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
The example companies, organizations, products, people and events depicted herein are fictitious. No association with any real company, organization, product, person, or event is intended or should be inferred.
Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved.
NOTICES AND PROCEDURE FOR MAKING CLAIMS OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Pursuant to Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c)(2), notifications of claimed copyright infringement under United States copyright law should be sent to Service Provider’s Designated Agent. ALL INQUIRIES NOT RELEVANT TO THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURE WILL RECEIVE NO RESPONSE. See Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement.