Minority Groups Make Broadband Points With FCC

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The NAACP, Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, the Urban League, the Hispanic Institute and 27 other groups representing a rainbow of minority interests, has told the Federal Communications Commission that the government's primary focus of a broadband rollout should first be to help minority and low-income populations get and adopt the technology.

That means a subsidized "lifeline" broadband connection for low-income households.

And the groups argue that "access" to broadband should not be defined as a wire (or a wireless) in the vicinity. Instead, they aver it should be defined as a function of both "deployment and affordability."

"Low-income populations may have physical proximity to two, three, or more forms of broadband service (e.g., cable modem, DSL, wireless), but they likely will yet have no practical access to these services given their low income and the lack of tailored service offerings," they told the FCC Monday, the deadline for comments on the commission's national broadband rollout plan.

MMTC, fling for the groups, said that accurate broadband mapping is key, as are digital literacy programs and removing barriers to entry for small and minority businesses.

Broadband, MMTC argues, has the potential to "lift our permanent underclass from chronic unemployment." Announcing a separate broadband adoption initiative Monday that MMTC is participating, Marc Morial, president of the Urban League, pointed out that while the current unemployment figures generally are at 9%, the figure for the African-American population is in the 15% range.