Hispanics Need Broadband, But Digital Divide Persists, Says Former FCC Commissioner

Henry M. Rivera, Strategic Counsel of the Internet Innovation Alliance, and former FCC Commissioner, told the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) that a persistent digital divide continues to hold Hispanics back from access to information technology and better jobs.

Speaking to the labor group meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the nation's first Hispanic FCC commissioner pointed out that "in 2010, NTIA reported that 52% of Hispanics and 52% of African Americans had yet to adopt broadband at home, compared with 32% of whites [without broadband]." Rivera also stressed that while the divide fell heavily on Hispanics, it was primarily a matter of economics. NTIA, he said, "found that 94% of households earning over $100,000 per year reported adopting broadband, compared to just 36% of households earning less than $25,000 per year."

Broadband, of course, brings growth and development to all, but special measures were needed to bring it to areas where it's currently weak. Rivera cited one example of intelligent broadband policy:

"The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act  was instrumental in not only creating programs such as NTIA's broadband technology opportunity program and the USDA's rural utilities service broadband infrastructure program, but also in raising awareness of the need to bring broadband to unserved and underserved communities."

Rivera told LCLAA that the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, brought, and would bring, benefits to those left out of the broadband revolution. For instance, in Puerto Rico, "ATT has committed to increase LTE coverage by 200,000 people and 500 square miles, which means that 97% of the population of Puerto Rico will be covered by the LTE footprint."

Overall, the merger, "promises to bring 4G LTE high-speed broadband to 55 million more Americans and reach more than a million additional square miles than AT&T's does now."

To read Mr. Rivera's speech in full, click here.

Prepared Remarks of Henry M. Rivera Strategic Counsel, Internet Innovation Alliance