Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski praised the cable industry for its proposal to provide low-cost broadband to kids in low-income families as a way to boost adoption among one of the key target populations.
"The cable industry's considerable investment in this program represents an important step in addressing the many broadband adoption challenges we face," he said in a statement Tuesday. "Recognizing that there is no silver bullet for promoting sustainable adoption, the A+ program offers students the combined support of digital literacy education, discounted computers, and discounted broadband access. This comprehensive approach promises to significantly expand the educational, social, and economic opportunities for our next generation."
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association proposal is contingent on the government coming up with funding for digital literacy education, and for either the government, the computer industry, or a combination of both, to subsidize low-cost computers.
Genachowski, whose praise for the program had actually already been conveyed by broadband advisor Blair Levin during a conference call announcing the effort, was certainly not alone in praising the proposal, according comments collected by NCTA from a spectrum of groups, including from a group on which Genachowski was a former board member, Common Sense Media.
"It's great news to see the cable industry take the initiative to propose new ways to partner with the government to help the most underserved kids get access to broadband," said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. "It's even more important to see that industry leaders recognize that kids need digital literacy and media education programs so that they can use broadband in smart, safe ways that will bring real improvements not only to their education but also their economic futures."
NCTA said it would welcome participation in other ISPs, like phone companies, to join the effort. AT&T said it had already been in contact.
"Today's A+ Proposal by the cable industry is a welcome step. The Internet has the ability to change lives and can help children reach for the stars at a critical time in their development," said AT&T senior executive vice president Jim Cicconi. "By focusing on some critical barriers to Internet adoption, this proposal makes a positive contribution to the discussion about how best to ensure that all Americans have access to the Internet. We have already been in touch with the NCTA about the A+ Proposal, and look forward to working with them and the FCC as details are developed."