By: Andrew Tran
On March 6, 2012, our senior partner Steve Masur moderated a dinner panel on the FCC’s new Connect to Compete initiative at the Urban Media Summit in New York. The panelist included James M. Assey Jr. (Executive Vice President of National Cable & Telecommunications Association), John Rubey (President of AEG Network Live), Karla Ballard (Chief of Strategic Development of Media and National Partnerships & Senior Vice President of One Economy Corporation), and Quincy D. Jones III (Composer, Musician, Film Producers, and Author).
The recently unveiled Connect to Compete initiative is an attempt to bridge the digital divide preventing lower-income families from accessing computers and Internet. Through Connect to Compete, corporations and nonprofits have partnered to increase broadband adoption, digital literacy, and access to equipment and training tools for disadvantaged communities across America. The program targets low income families with at least one child eligible for the free National School Lunch Program.
In short, the Connect to Compete program is three-pronged. First, cable providers are offering broadband Internet access to eligible families for $9.95 plus tax per month. Second, these families are also being offered the opportunity to purchase inexpensive computers loaded with the Microsoft Office suite. Families have the choice between a $150 refurbished computer from Redemtech or a $250 brand new computer from Microsoft. Third, the program hopes to promote digital literacy through various in-person and online courses aimed at effectively using technology to educate and work.
The digital divide has become an increasingly problematic issue in America. Only about 46% of low-income families in America have adopted broadband at home compared to the over 90% of higher income families. This threatens to increase the wealth disparity in the country as over 50% of all jobs require technology skills, and this number will increase to 77% over the next decade. In terms of education, Internet and computer access have been strongly correlated to academic achievement. One study has found that students with broadband at home are 7% more likely to graduate high school. Further, consumers with broadband at home have been estimated to be able to save more than $7,000 per year.
Computer and Internet access are no longer a luxuries but necessities. Connect to Compete acknowledges this and attempts to tackle the problem head on. For more information on the Connect to Compete initiative and the Urban Media Summit, please visit: