More U.S. Low-Income Households Targeted for Internet Access, Training

By Ed Silverstein February 15, 2013

A partnership involving the federal government, not-for-profits and business is expanding digital literacy and access to varied regions in the United States.

This week, it was announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will join Connect2Compete’s (C2C) Digital Literacy Coalition as a digital literacy outreach partner. In addition, C2C and Best Buy’s Geek Squad will provide free digital literacy training at HUD Neighborhood Centers starting this spring. Locations include: Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, St. Paul, and Washington, D.C. – with more locations to be added soon.

C2C is a national not-for-profit which encourages increased access to high-speed Internet, computers, and digital literacy training in the United States. It targets homes without Internet service, according to TechZone360. That affects some 100 million Americans. Many cable Internet companies, Best Buy, Discovery, LULAC, the National Urban League, Intel, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Microsoft, Sunesys, CFY, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America are among the partners.

Connect2Compete wants to expand its program to all 50 states. The need is there.

"Roughly 1 in 3 Americans – nearly 100 million – still haven’t adopted broadband at home,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement this week about the program. “Low-income Americans and minorities are disproportionately on the wrong-side of the digital divide. 

Only about half of all Latinos have adopted broadband in the home.”

Residents of HUD-funded public, assisted or Native American housing, often lack broadband access in their homes because it is unavailable or costs too much, the FCC said in a recent report.

Those without Internet access have fewer opportunities in education, healthcare and employment, the FCC head said. More than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies post job openings exclusively online. Half of U.S. jobs require technology skills, and that number is projected to increase to nearly 80 percent.

“Since 2009, the adoption rate has increased from about 60 percent to about 70 percent. Progress has been faster for mobile broadband.  Smartphone ownership has increased from 16 percent to over 55 percent, and minorities are adopting mobile at a faster rate than the general population,” Genachowski said. He wants to see universal access and Internet use.

The digital divide is a global issue. Some 65 percent of the world’s population of seven billion was not using the Internet in 2011, according to UN estimates cited by TechZone360.

Private cable companies are among those partnering to increase digital access. There are both reasons of public service and wise business reasoning behind such moves. Broadcasting & Cable reports that cable companies can increase the number of customers via such initiatives.




Edited by Brooke Neuman

TechZone360 Contributor

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