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Mignon Clyburn Blasts Carriers For Raising Broadband Prices; Urges National Digital Literacy Corps

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 - With the national broadband plan due to be unveiled next Tuesday at the Federal Communications Commission, the commissioners have been speaking about issues surrounding broadband adoption.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has been particularly vocal about the need for affordable rates and increased digital literacy; both issues ranked at the top of reasons why non-adopters claim to not use the internet.

On Wednesday, Clyburn released a statement expressing her dismay at recent news that many broadband providers will be raising their rates.

“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.”

Clyburn’s statement may signal that the FCC may begin to think about regulating service prices.

In her statement, she also mentioned one of the many new programs that the FCC is expected to urge in the national broadband plan that could expand digital literacy. The FCC proposes the creation of a “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.”

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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