Expanding and Accelerating the Adoption & Use of Broadband Throughout the Economy

On Friday the 13th, the US Broadband Coalition released their most recent report, Expanding and Accelerating the Adoption & Use of Broadband Throughout the Economy: A report of the adoption and use working group: US Broadband Coalition: Policy Options to the Federal Communications Commission. I’m giving the whole title as it gives a lot of context.

The report builds upon the Coalition’s initial suggestions for a National Rural Policy released last September. According to the recent report, “The mission of the Adoption and Use Group was to investigate why residential, commercial, and institutional users do or do not use the Internet; to examine how broadband connections to the Internet can facilitate, expand, and improve such use; and to develop as much agreement as possible on promising approaches to increase adoption and use of broadband connectivity.”

The report starts out recognizing the importance of broadband on a household and community level. It promotes Federal and state support such as programs, grants, subsidies, and other measures that foster broadband connectivity, computer access, education, and training and that address barriers to effective use of broadband. They organize adoption efforts into 5 categories:

• Bridging the Digital Divide
• Addressing the Broadband Adoption Gap for People with Disabilities
• Increasing the Intensity Of Broadband Use In Core Sectors of Our Economy
• Raising the Bar on Skills and Ease of Use
• Accelerating Innovation

The report details recommendations for policy and actions that would support improvements in each area. What’s nice is that much of what they’ve outlined is in agreement with the recommendations made a week earlier by the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force. Both recognize the importance on ubiquitous access. Both recognize the importance of improving adoption rates through training, subsidized computers and increasing relevance.

I thought that the most valuable section talked about increasing broadband use in core sectors because it focuses on broadband as a solution – not a requirement. I know I’ve talked about this from the schools perspectives before – but when I was an undergraduate we had to pass a computer literacy test to graduate. I hated it. It was just about the only time as an undergraduate that I used a computer! I learned whatever I needed to know for the test and that was it. I hadn’t really become a user.

Fast forward 4 years to graduate school – there was no computer literacy test, but there was an expectation that you could use a computer. Computers use had increased and intensified so that we all took it upon ourselves to learn how to use them. That’s not to say that access and training aren’t valuable – they are – but motivation is the key. Framing broadband (and the technology it drives) as a solution is a key motivator for an individual, community or country.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, FCC, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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