Community groups applaud broadband plan, but stress that there's a ways to go for closing the digital divide

Media Action Grassroots Network:

Universal Access and Affordability of Broadband

“We agree with FCC Commissioner Clyburn that The Plan’s three-stage process to transition universal service support from narrowband to broadband within ten years is visionary. On this, the voices of marginalized communities have been heard,” said Amalia Deloney, Coordinator of the Media Action Grassroots Network at the Center for Media Justice.

But many leaders representing people of color, poor communities, migrants, and other under-represented groups say that in order to truly establish a competitive broadband infrastructure that can drive economic recovery in the U.S. hard choices must be made.

“The goal of extending universal access to broadband is an excellent future forward goal, but any policy intended to drive broadband adoption in communities of color and migrant communities must produce a clear roadmap to ensure that the speed and access goals recommended are a floor, not a ceiling- and that people don’t become digital haves and have nots based on their zip code or their race. This kind of roadmap demands that the FCC retain full jurisdiction to ensure this vision becomes reality,” said Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center.

Competition & Transparency

“We applaud the FCC’s approach to increasing competition through expanding wireless access for poor communities, especially Commissioner Baker who suggested wireless can be a gateway for access for under-represented communities. But we know that to truly participate in this economy wireless access isn’t a substitute for high speed broadband- and we look forward to concrete policy that ensures that poor people have a real chance at economic empowerment,” said Garlin Gilchrist II of the Center for Community Change.

“The FCC has produced a strong vision for consumer transparency so people know what technology they’re buying, and that they are getting their money’s worth. But the devil is in the details, and we hope as the National Broadband Plan moves from a laudable vision to a concrete set of policies, the FCC will not only review competition policy but be willing to act and provide real oversight,” said Makani Themba Nixon of the Praxis Project.

Unlicensed Spectrum in Rural Communities

Nationwide, community groups agree with the full commission that concluding the proceedings on unlicensed TV spectrum is long overdue and applaud the FCC’s innovative recommendations to get unlicensed spectrum to the rural and poor communities that need it.

Open Internet Proceeding

What was notably absent from the National Broadband Plan was any clear mention of a vision regarding the Open Internet Proceeding. The Internet is the most transformative and flexible communications system ever created, and strong open Internet protections are the only clear way to ensure that people of color, migrant communities, small businesses, and other marginalized groups have the power to speak in their own voices without corporate gatekeepers. We hope the National Broadband Plan has set the stage for such strong protections and to ensure that the FCC has the jurisdiction to translate this vision of powerful open networks into reality.” James Rucker, ColorOfChange.org

Reclaim the Media is the Northwest anchor organization for the Media Action Grassroots Network. Northwest MAG-Net groups include the Community Alliance for Global Justice, Hidmo, KBCS Community Radio, One America, Ozya, Reel Grrls, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and Youth Media Institute.

article originally published at Media Action Grassroots Network.

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