The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week released its anticipated National Broadband plan, which aims to bring access to high-speed-internet to 100 million homes by 2020.
The plan’s goals are to create a nationwide information infrastructure that offers every American affordable access to high-speed-internet, and to bridge the digital divide that disproportionately affects low-income people, communities of color, and people who live in rural areas.
“We are especially heartened to see the Commission’s plans to increase the deployment of broadband to all communities. Such efforts benefit everyone, but especially help historically marginalized communities that remain underserved or unserved today” said Andrew Schwartzman, president of Media Access Project.
The United Church of Christ said, in a statement that the plan “recognizes that digital literacy –or the familiarity with computers and technology—is a key factor in helping people of all backgrounds get online. It recognizes that cost of access is a critically important factor for people of low incomes and proposes some steps to ensure that rates are low for everyone…”
Civil rights groups, including The Leadership Conference Education Fund, have long argued that the federal government must address the digital divide because of the serious consequences it could have for disadvantaged minority groups as computer and technological skills become increasingly important in all spheres of American life.
Several groups pointed out that there is more work to be done, however, because the FCC’s plan is short on details, particularly around policies to foster more competition between broadband providers to drive down costs for consumers.
“While the FCC does take some important steps toward a new framework for competition policy, many of the critical questions are deferred for further review,” said Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver. “We hope the plan will confront the competition problems directly, and will include specific policies to put consumers first. Implementing the policies needed to bring every American affordable, robust broadband will require courageous leadership and a willingness to stand up to narrow corporate interests.”