Home » Uncategorized » Latinos, Broadband and Technology Post-Election 2010

The 2010 mid-term elections were notable for so many reasons – most especially because of the key role the Latino electorate played in races across the country, and across party lines. Some of the most notable races were won because of the Latino Vote. In Florida, where Latinos have always been the key electoral factor, Marco Rubio was elected to the Senate and David Rivera will ascend to the House. In Nevada, Senator Harry Reid notably defended his seat and returns to the Senate thanks in major part to the Latino vote. We saw once again the power and importance of the Latino vote in races across the country.

How does this translate to the issues facing Latinos, technology and access to broadband?

For the 112th Congress, key aspects of the Latino policy agenda will be front and center in securing America’s competitiveness in the 21st century.

Broadband adoption, innovation policy and implementation of the national broadband plan to eradicate the digital divide in order to secure long-term American competitiveness are among the key components of the Latino agenda in this area.

Underscoring this, a recent article in Forbes reports on the racial gap in residential broadband usage. The article, highlighting a new report by the US Census – prepared by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Economics and Statistics Administration, provides some of the deepest analysis yet of broadband usage trends in the United States – finding that non-Hispanic white Americans and Asian-Americans are still more likely to go online using a high-speed connection than African-Americans and Hispanics.

In fact, Hispanics remain the least likely to adopt broadband at home – with a 20- point gap in home adoption in comparison to non-Hispanic whites.

Once again, this data demonstrates that the digital divide remains a real barrier to America’s economic competitiveness. There is much work to do in order to correct this and bring all Americans into the Digital economy.

Here is a startling statistic: The new report found that 35 percent of Hispanics who don’t have broadband at home and don’t use it outside of their home either, say they don’t subscribe because they don’t need it, versus 29 percent of this group who say it’s too expensive. With the boundless possibilities that broadband has to offer, it is discouraging to hear that more than one quarter of a group who are unconnected still believe they don’t need to be.

Access is the first step to bringing all Americans – especially low-income Latinos – into the digital age. But the key is adoption – and digital literacy training will play a critical role in increasing adoption. Those currently unconnected need to understand the benefits that broadband access can offer and they must have the technical skills to transact online.

The HTTP Coalition has advocated strongly in support of the efforts of coalition members such as LULAC and ASPIRA, who have created community technology centers throughout the country. These centers have made a considerable difference in these communities; however, it is clear that there is still a long way to go. Federal funds dedicated to digital literacy projects will help – for example, the stimulus program includes $250 million for projects to teach digital literacy skills and encourage broadband adoption, plus another $200 million for public computer centers. But private sector partnerships and investment is necessary for success. Together, these efforts will result in a digitally literate community, with more, lower-cost options to benefit from the benefits of the Internet.

HTTP welcomes the new members of Congress and leadership as 2011 begins renewed advocacy for Latino competitiveness in the digital economy.

–Jason Llorenz, HTTP Executive Director

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