Organizers for broadband proliferation gather in DC

WASHINGTON, DC - WASHINGTON, DC (WCSC) - A group of citizens and leaders gathered Tuesday in support of strategies that will provide access to digital tools necessary to find jobs, stay informed and pursue other endeavors.

The FCC estimates some 93 million Americans are still behind the curve when it comes to having access to technology like the internet.

America's Digital Inclusion Summit at the Newseum focused on the need to break down barriers to broadband as high-speed Internet service becomes increasingly vital to citizens and the nation. The FCC believes the U.S. can meet a goal – home broadband use by 90 percent of Americans by 2020, compared to 65 percent today – by starting with recommendations contained in the National Broadband Plan being developed for Congress by the Federal Communications Commission, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.

"In order to ensure long term American competitiveness and prosperity, we must not leave one-third of the nation behind," Genachowski said. "The National Broadband Plan provides a vision for federal, state and local leadership and partnerships with the private and non-profit communities that will bridge the digital divide and transform America into a nation where broadband expands opportunities for all."

The Summit was co-hosted by the FCC and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Knight President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen said, "Broadband access for all is essential to meeting the information needs of communities in a democracy. Without it, we'll end up with a new category of second-class citizens. With it, everyone will be able to harness the social and economic opportunities of the digital age."

In addition to hundreds in attendance at the Newseum, many participated via webcast from In Akron, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia, people gathered to watch the national webcast and convene local discussions about accelerating broadband adoption in their region.

Tuesday's summit focused on ways to help people take advantage of broadband when it is available to them, known as broadband adoption. A comprehensive survey by the FCC on broadband adoption found that key barriers include the cost of computers or connections, lack of online skills, and lack of understanding about the relevance of broadband applications, with issues for people with disabilities cutting across and beyond those barriers.

The FCC will deliver its National Broadband Plan to Congress on March 17, which will detail strategies for expanding affordable, world-class broadband throughout the county.

The draft broadband plan makes a number of recommendations on increasing broadband adoption to FCC, Congress and other branches of government and the private and non-profit sectors.

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