USIIA and Net Literacy Digital Literacy Whitepaper

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The United States must immediately begin to focus new and expanded energy, priorities and resources on increasing the adoption rate for high-speed Internet services, or it will never reach its stated goal of ubiquitous broadband and digital inclusion.

Over the past eight years, the commercial Internet industry has done a remarkable job of deploying a new and dramatic broadband technology to American consumers. Industry growth rates have averaged 17 percent, and nearly 2/3 of American consumers now use broadband connections.

But as noted by Robert Quinn, AT&T's Senior Vice-President of Federal Regulatory, "… many Americans still do not have access to broadband, and of those that do have access, nearly half of them do not purchase it for a range of reasons, including lack of necessary internet-enabled devices, affordability issues and relevancy. An inclusive approach to a national broadband strategy will also look at increasing the adoption of broadband service."

It will be necessary to complete the buildout of the broadband infrastructure in order to gain a sufficient subscriber base to further reduce consumer costs, and to reach the 10 percent of Americans who are not using broadband because of issues of price and availability. But the broader issue is adoption of broadband by those who have access available and still cannot use the Internet for a variety of reasons.

The allocation of $450 million to fund programs of adoption under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides a unique opportunity and a call to action for America. This position paper proposes a community-based approach to achieving ubiquitous adoption of broadband, based on five programs to:

• Create a national Digital Inclusion initiative to drive broadband adoption

• Create community center education programs to communicate the value proposition for broadband

• Create a flexible and customizable curriculum for use in each community center

• Provide for a "Student Net Literacy Corps

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Daniel Kent, Haverford College | Attorney Advertising

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