New Initiative Gives Low-Income Families Low-Cost Internet, Computers

A new initiative between the FCC and the private sector will help reduce the digital divide in America at “zero cost to taxpayers”. The FCC and Connect to Compete, a national private and nonprofit sector partnership, will provide low-cost computers and high-speed broadband Internet service in the homes of low-income students and families.

According to the Pew Research Center, one-third of all Americans — 100 million people – have not adopted broadband high-speed Internet at home, creating a “digital divide,” especially in rural communities as well as among low-income blacks and Hispanics.

This morning POLITICO’s Playbook reported :

NETWORK NEWS ALERT: FCC today to announce $9.95/month broadband Internet to the homes of all school-lunch-eligible families, plus $150 refurbished computers (very powerful, shipped to the home, with Microsoft Office, Windows 7, tech support and warranty.

–“FCC & ‘CONNECT TO COMPETE’ TACKLE BARRIERS TO BROADBAND ADOPTION : NEW LOW-COST BROADBAND AND COMPUTER OFFERINGS FOR ELIGIBLE SCHOOL LUNCH CHILDREN & THEIR FAMILIES — $4 BILLION, UNPRECEDENTED IN-KIND OFFER FOR UP TO 25 MILLION AMERICANS — BUILDS ON FCC’S DIGITAL LITERACY ANNOUNCEMENT — BIGGEST EFFORT EVER TO HELP CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: In May 2011, Chairman Genachowski challenged the broadband ecosystem to help close the adoption gap. Today, at a public school in Washington, D.C., Chairman Genachowski applauded executives and nonprofit leaders from leading Internet service providers, technology companies and nonprofits for their unprecedented multi-billion dollar in-kind commitments to empower millions of families with broadband Internet, PCs, and digital literacy training, with zero cost to taxpayers.”

While Hispanics are early adopters of technology and have a high use of social media, they are more likely to get access to the Web from a cellphone and not from a home computer with Internet-connection, an indicator that they are using the cheaper mobile devices to overcome the digital divide.

Only 45% of Latinos have broadband internet access in their home compared to 65% of non-Hispanic Whites. However the greatest digital divide is with Spanish-dominant Latinos—only 26% have broadband internet access in their home.

“Home broadband internet access is essential for Latinos to succeed in school and to compete in today’s workforce,” stated Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director of The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), (http://lulac.org/programs/technology/)

Read more at Pew Internet: “For Minorities, New ‘Digital Divide’ Seen” and Pew Hispanic Center: “Latinos and Digital Technology, 2010

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