Press Releases

Yet Overwhelming Majority Agrees that Internet Access is Critical to Success in Education, Business, Community and Family Life

New Findings of Groundbreaking National Survey on Minority Internet Use from Cornell Belcher – Former DNC and Obama Presidential Campaign Pollster – To Be Discussed at Internet Innovation Alliance Broadband Symposium Today in Washington, D.C.

Free Digital Literacy Programs More Valuable to Hispanics and African Americans than Free Internet Access

California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus Fabian Núñez, Rey Ramsey, CEO of Nonprofit OneEconomy, among Speakers Addressing Opportunities and Advantages of Broadband Internet

WASHINGTON D.C. – December 10, 2009 – Only 42 percent of African Americans and Hispanics regularly use the Internet, yet they overwhelmingly agree that Internet access is critical to achieving success, according to new findings from a national survey of 900 minority adults conducted by Brilliant Corners Research, led by Pollster Cornell Belcher. The results from this survey will be revealed today in Washington, D.C., at the Internet Innovation Alliance’s (IIA) Symposium, “Universal Broadband:  Access for All Americans.”

Featured keynote speaker and highly-regarded Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher will address the poll results and shed light on the lessons that can be extrapolated to accelerate progress in closing the digital divide.

“In this groundbreaking survey we found that members in two of the country’s largest minority communities believe that Internet access is essential for many critical daily activities, including staying in touch with family, online education and research, job hunting and networking, and accessing information about health care, weather and traffic,” said Belcher, principal author of the report.  “And yet alarmingly, less than half – 42 percent – of the same demographic regularly uses the Internet.”

Members of African American and Hispanic communities believe in the value of high-speed broadband Internet, as opposed to outdated, slower dial-up service. In fact, nearly one-in-five respondents (18%) identified ‘speed of connection’ as the one thing they would change to make it easier to access the Internet – even more so than if Internet access were free (10%).

“It’s extremely important to note that the top answer given by those polled for how to ‘make it easier to access the Internet’ was [faster] speed of connection,” said IIA Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman. “Policy makers working toward universal broadband must understand that speed of connections – achieved via robust investments in infrastructure and effective network management – are essential for both access and adoption.”

For an open-ended question on ‘one thing you could change that would make you more likely to want to access the Internet,’ affordability ranked near the top of the list. This result points to the fact that many groups are price-sensitive and that higher costs of broadband access could hurt adoption if communities of color are deterred from capitalizing on the benefits of high-speed Internet.

“It is very telling that of those respondents who do not have Internet access, 43 percent cited either not knowing how to use the Internet or not seeing the need for the Internet as the reason why they are not online,” said IIA Co-Chairman David Sutphen. “But interestingly, 44 percent of these same respondents said they would be more likely to subscribe to Internet services if they were provided free lessons on how to use the technology and 30 percent would be more likely to adopt if they had more information about how they could benefit from going online. It’s clear that digital literacy programs indeed are a crucial part of the formula for closing the digital divide.”

Poll respondents strongly agree on several Internet-enabled, life-changing benefits that make access so valuable:

* More than 60 percent (64%) of those polled strongly believe the Internet is important, because students with access can receive tutoring and help with their homework.
* Forty-three percent of respondents strongly agree that students with Internet access achieve higher grades.
* More than three in five (61%) strongly feel households with Internet access have greater access to commerce, education, health care, entertainment and communication.
* Approximately half (48%) strongly agree that Internet is valuable, because tech-connected families receive more health information.
* More than 60 percent (62%) strongly believe individuals with Internet access have more opportunities to work from home.
* Nearly seven in ten (68%) respondents strongly agree that small business owners with Internet access are better able to reach and expand their customer base.
* One in two (51%) strongly feel Internet access increases awareness and access to government services.

Most of the respondents said they accessed the Internet from home –  78 percent – and slightly more than two-thirds (68%) said they access the Internet from a private portal, as opposed to a public portal, such as at anchor institutions like the library.

“It is clear that home Internet connections are critically important to expanding broadband access and adoption in communities of color,” said Sutphen.  “Policy makers would be wise to keep this reality in mind as they consider ways to continue closing the digital divide and ensure that all Americans can benefit from broadband.”

Congressional approval of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocated $7.2 billion for broadband development and charged the FCC with creating a national broadband plan, due to Congress in February 2010. According to the IIA, an effective National Broadband Strategy will enable the government to partner with the private sector to extend broadband service to every corner of the country, while at the same time raising awareness of its benefits.

The IIA Symposium today will feature leaders and innovators specialized in leveraging high-speed broadband Internet to enhance the lives of the disadvantaged, such as California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus Fabian Núñez and Rey Ramsey, CEO of nonprofit organization OneEconomy, which equips low-income communities with the power and promise of the Internet.

Through discussions led by top minds in the technology field, the symposium will examine the opportunities and advantages broadband Internet brings to education, job searching, creation and training, health care, community building, entertainment and civic participation; wireless Internet as a bridge over the digital divide; the benefits of online content for minority communities; the economic impacts of broadband deployment; the future of broadband technology; and the likely impact of government actions to promote or diminish broadband deployment and adoption.

Other participants in today’s broadband symposium include Jeff Johnson, The Truth with Jeff Johnson; Denmark West, BET; Jimmy Lynn, JLynn Associates; Maria Teresa Petersen, Voto Latino; Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr, Widener University, American Consumer Institute; Dr. Elaine Kamarck, Harvard Kennedy School; Brian Foley, Northern Virginia Community College, Medical Education Campus; Valerie Fast Horse, Coeur D’Alene Tribe; Paul Schroeder, American Foundation for the Blind; and Navarrow Wright, Maximum Leverage Solutions.

The IIA Symposium begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. A live webcast of the event is available via the Internet Innovation Alliance website at  The IIA’s blog “The Podium” will also feature symposium updates in real-time. 

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These findings are from a survey conducted by brilliant corners Research & Strategies on behalf of the IIA, which reached 700 African American and 200 Hispanic adults over the age of 18 using professional telephone interviewers from December 1 through December 7, 2009. The data was weighted slightly by gender, age, race and region to more closely reflect the general population. The margin of error for the combined sample is +/-3.3%. 

About The Internet Innovation Alliance
The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet – from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.

For more information contact:
Lauren DuBois
(212) 446-1865
[email protected]