Today, at an event at The Pew Charitable Trusts' offices in Washington, D.C., FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced a major new initiative — Connect to Compete — organized by the FCC in cooperation with a host of private sector companies and non-profit groups to expand broadband adoption by focusing on digital literacy.
Studies by Pew, the FCC, NTIA, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, among others, have all shown that the primary reason that about a third of Americans have not yet adopted broadband can be tied to a host of digital literacy-related barriers — a lack of understanding of what the Internet is, a skepticism that the Internet is relevant to them, and concern that the Internet is too hard to use or will bring in unwanted content or viruses into their homes.
The comprehensive digital literacy initiative announced today aims to overcome these concerns and to demonstrate how broadband access is important to everyone — from students with educational materials from Discovery Communications, to adults looking for jobs and job training with CareerBuilder, Monster.com, and Microsoft. The program also aims to significantly increase the number of libraries that offer digital literacy training.
The Chairman and the Commission have assembled an unprecedented collection of digital literacy efforts — unprecedented in their quality and unprecedented in their breadth. We at Comcast want to applaud the Chairman and his staff for their Herculean efforts in advancing this critical component of any integrated program to improve broadband adoption rates in America.
We knew as we conceived our comprehensive broadband adoption program, Internet Essentials, that digital literacy training and education were an important part of getting more Americans online. For this reason, Internet Essentials includes a substantial digital education component that gives eligible low-income households access to online, print, and in-person training opportunities, along with specially-priced high-speed Internet service and discount-priced computers.
Thanks to the hard work by the Chairman and the Commission, we intend to integrate the Commission's materials into our digital literacy efforts already underway in conjunction with our Internet Essentials program. We look forward to working with the Commission, the private sector and non-profit partners to make these materials easy to access and easy to use for Internet Essentials participants through our existing English and Spanish language Internet Essentials websites.
In conjunction with our community partners, we've already held over 60 digital literacy training sessions across the country in September, with over 150 more scheduled over the next few months.
Broadband is essential to our economic growth and innovation as a nation. As more and more employers require online job applications and computer skills, these efforts can help create jobs and give more Americans a chance to compete for jobs that require these skills, today and in the future.
With continued hard work on programs like the one announced today, Chairman Genachowski and new private sector and non-profit partners bring us an important step closer to the goal of making America the most connected nation on earth.