FCC Backs New Nonprofit "Connect to Compete" To Plug Digital Divide

In May, 2011 FCC Chairman Genachowski announced the broadband adoption initiative, and on October 12, 2011, he unveiled Connect to Compete as the first response to the May challenge. Now, the Federal Communications Commission has turned to a coalition of nonprofit and for-profit groups called "Connect to Compete," said Julius Genachowski, to "help meet the vital national challenge of connecting all Americans to broadband Internet and its benefits."

Speaking at the offices of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Genachowski noted that one-third of Americans don't have Internet at home. In an accompanying FCC fact sheet, "According to the Pew Research Center, the top three obstacles to broadband adoption are digital literacy and trust, relevance and cost." As a result, "Deploying broadband networks to every American is vital," said Genachowski, "so is empowering every American who has access to broadband to adopt it."  

The result is Connect to Compete and its Digital Literacy Corps initiative, led by Kelly Dunne, CEO of the One Economy Corporation that brings broadband and training to underserved communities worldwide. In addition to nonprofits like One Economy, a Speed Matters partner, and members of the Broadband Opportunity Council including Speed Matters partners League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Media Telecommunicatiosn Council, as well as La Raza, the Boys and Girls Club and the NAACP, the FCC has managed to sign on corporations like Best Buy, Microsoft and Monster.com.

Best Buy has pledged "it will put its 20,000 Geek Squad agents to work beginning in 20 cities to train Americans in basic digital literacy." At the same time, nonprofits like Sesame Workshop have "announced it will provide content including games, videos, and other educational materials from its outreach projects on hunger and economic hardships."

Genachowski also reiterated his support for public libraries as vital centers for helping people learn to use the Internet and computer technology.  "Many - but not enough - of America's 16,000 public libraries have become vital centers for digital literacy," he said.

Remarks of Julius Genachowski (Oct. 12, 2011)

One Economy website

FCC fact sheet on Connect to Compete (Oct. 12, 2011)