FCC's Levin outlines plans to get more older Americans online

FCC National Broadband Plan Executive Director Blair Levin recently spoke at the National Press Club on the need for expanded funding for programs aimed at getting more older Americans online.

In drafting the National Broadband Plan the FCC found that 65 percent of Americans have adopted high-speed residential service. That number drops to less than 35 percent when taking into account only Americans over the age of 65.

Non-adoption rates are particularly high among older Americans who are racial or ethnic minorities. Only 21 percent of African-Americans over 65 have adopted broadband, one-third of the national average.

Prior to the release of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC released a study that showed that over 93 million Americans are disconnected from broadband opportunities. The primary barrier to adoption found was lack of digital literacy skills.

Proposed in the National Broadband Plan, the Digital Literacy Corps will employ young Americans to go out into their communities and teach digital skills. Blair also highlighted Project GOAL (Get Older Adults onLine), meant to raise the profile of challenges confronting the use and adoption of technology within older communities.

Most importantly, Blair called on local communities to take charge in getting more Americans online:

This last recommendation again underscores an important point. If the federal government tries to tackle barriers to adoption alone, it will fail. We must instead draw on the power of community groups, private companies, and government all together.

The National Broadband Plan released in mid-March calls on Congress to devote additional funding to digital literacy training programs for older Americans.

Getting More Older Americans Online (FCC)

93 Million Americans Disconnected From Broadband Opportunities (Speedmatters)