There's a gap of about 93 million Americas who do have Internet Access (of any kind - not even dialup! I can't even wrap my head around that). The FCC is on a mission to bridge that gap.
Commissioner Clyburn's statement was informative, especially about the proposed "National Digital Literacy Corps in order to help individuals who are unfamiliar with or intimidated by the on-line world develop the skills they need to be comfortable on-line and to take full advantage of all it has to offer." Like a help desk. I wonder who will pay for that.
"If we are serious as a nation - both public and private sectors - about connecting America; about leading the world technologically and economically; about ensuring that all Americans have meaningful access to on-line education, healthcare, and information essential to citizenry, then we should be very concerned about these ominous signs. For if our push to increase broadband adoption - including through Lifeline subsidies - merely results in higher prices for the lowest-income consumers, programs like the National Digital Literacy Corps will be for naught.
"Thirty-six percent of non-adopters cite a cost-related reason as their main barrier to adoption, with 15 percent pointing to the monthly cost of service, and 9 percent saying they do not want a long-term service contract or find the installation fee too high. Across-the-board price increases, especially on those who can least afford it, should raise a red flag for the Commission. When prices rise across the industry, and where there are only a limited number of players in the game, we have to ask ourselves whether there is any meaningful competition in the marketplace. Moreover, when executives from major broadband providers indicate that they will only roll out faster speeds in the few markets where they have competition, our fears about whether meaningful competition exists should grow. If we fail to think deeply about these issues, consumers will suffer,and low-income Americans in particular will be left long behind."
So the FCC is finally grasping that we do NOT have meaningful competition for Broadband in the US. Maybe all that Unregulation from Powell and Martin is starting to bite our economy in the ass. Maybe when AT&T declared the PSTN a relic, it should have been a wake up call.
On another note, the FCC is also beginning to understand that one barrier to Internet adoption is that these households lack an internet appliance or computer. First step towards that is this NPRM:
"On February 19, 2010, the Commission released an order and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that enabled schools that receive funding from the E-rate program (more formally, the schools and libraries universal service support program) to allow members of the general public to use the schools' Internet access during non-operating hours."