Connected Nation Joins Major National Broadband Adoption Effort Announced by FCC

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‘Connect to Compete’ Focuses on Training, Digital Literacy

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Our data show that nearly 32 million rural Americans don’t have broadband at home. Across all areas, approximately 6.7 million unemployed Americans don’t have home broadband service. We can’t compete when our players are sitting on the sidelines.

Today, it was announced that national nonprofit Connected Nation is a key strategic advisor and partner in a major national public-private broadband adoption initiative called “Connect to Compete” aimed at boosting digital literacy and skills training and job creation.

The program, which includes a dozen private and nonprofit partners, was announced today by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a speech at the Pew Charitable Trust.

“Our data show that nearly 32 million rural Americans don’t have broadband at home. Across all areas, approximately 6.7 million unemployed Americans don’t have home broadband service. We can’t compete when our players are sitting on the sidelines without the right equipment,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation. “Connected Nation has been working to equip communities with the necessary technology for nearly a decade. The Connect to Compete initiative is an exciting opportunity bringing national game changers together to make big things happen for digital literacy.”

Components of the program include a national “digital literacy corps” working to close the broadband adoption gap, and initiatives by private sector firms that are donating training opportunities, software, and creating digital content that will help job seekers. The Connect to Compete nonprofit initiative will oversee the effort.

Microsoft, Geek Squad, the Boys and Girls Club, Goodwill, One Economy, and the National Urban League are some of the other organizations aligned with Connect to Compete.

As a national technology organization with a footprint reaching 30 states and territories, Connected Nation has been leading the way in promoting broadband access, adoption, and use for nearly a decade. Connected Nation’s programs include: cutting-edge research, groundbreaking broadband mapping and planning programs through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's State Broadband Initiative, technology training and distribution, and a long history of partnerships with governments, other nonprofits, community leaders, and leading technology firms.

Connected Nation and its state-based programs have initiated several successful digital literacy programs to provide computers and training to disadvantaged populations. Connected Nation’s community and education programs such as Every Citizen Online and Computers 4 Kids have the effect of generating demand for broadband services in previously unserved areas, and have helped thousands cross the digital adoption gap.

Tomorrow, Connected Nation is releasing its 2011 Residential Technology Assessment revealing the barriers to broadband adoption across vulnerable sectors. The research shows the vital need for efforts such as Connect to Compete:

  •     46% of rural households or 31.6 million people living in rural areas do not subscribe to broadband service at home. This is more than the populations of Texas and Wisconsin combined.
  •     15.4 million American adults say a lack of digital skills and knowledge of how to use a computer and broadband is the main reason why they don’t have broadband at home.
  •     We estimate that 17 million children do not have broadband at home – and that 7.6 million of these children live in low-income households. The disproportionate adoption gap has serious implications for technology education policy.

About Connected Nation: Connected Nation is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) that expands access to and use of broadband Internet and the related technologies that are enabled when individuals and communities have the opportunity and desire to connect. Connected Nation effectively raises the awareness of the value of broadband and related technologies by developing coalitions of influencers and enablers for improving technology availability and use. Connected Nation works with consumers, community leaders, states, technology providers and foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop and implement technology expansion programs with core competencies centered on a mission to improve digital inclusion for people and places previously underserved or overlooked. http://www.connectednation.org.

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Jessica Ditto
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