Levin Cites Net’s Potential

1/23/2010 2:00 AM Eastern

The Internet has the potential to “exacerbate inequality,” which is why universal broadband deployment and adoption is so important, the Federal Communications Commission’s top broadband adviser, Blair Levin, told the Minority Media & Telecommunications Association’s conference on Broadband and Social Justice in Washington Friday.

While closing the digital divide was no guarantee of redressing “income inequality, residential segregation and social isolation,” Levin said, broadband access can provide better jobs, education, health care and government services, which should not be denied to anyone.

Access means more than availability, he said, and adoption continues to be a key challenge.

Levin, overseeing preparation of the national broadband plan, said keys to spurring adoption are:

  • A “social infrastructure” that “weaves our investments in digital access into the fabric of our communities,” with that fabric including libraries and community centers;

  • “Social innovation,” like online credit counseling or grant programs to “micro entrepreneurs”; and

  • “Social-purpose media,” which means high-value content from private and government sources.

“We must ensure that there are no digital second-class citizens,” Levin told his audience.