The nation needs to do more to encourage people to use the Internet, Federal Communications Commission member Mignon Clyburn told the National Rural Assembly in St. Paul today.
A third of Americans who have access to broadband service don’t subscribe to it, she said. Why not?
Cost is a big reason but so are lack of knowledge and lack of understanding of the value, she said.
“We need to shine a light on why people are not adopting the Internet at home,” she said. “Without broadband, they might not achieve their potential, falling further behind in the digital 21st Century.”
Lots of people are watching to see what the FCC does with the Universal Service Fund, which has been used to expand telephone access for the poor and in remote areas. Changes have been proposed that would direct the fund toward expanding Internet use instead.
Clyburn said she hoped the commission would produce results by year’s end.
She noted that both Comcast and CenturyLink have promised in their recent merger proposals to commit money to support greater digital literacy, and she urged her audience of rural activists to hold those companies’ feet to the fire and find other private-public partnerships to do the same.