WASHINGTON, June 29, 2010 – In a speech to the American Library Association, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn reviewed the top recommendations to expand broadband service and adoption found in the National Broadband Plan.
Clyburn said the most important recommendation in making broadband service available to all Americans is the overhaul of the Universal Service Fund. She said, “This program has been a tremendous success in providing telephone service to areas where there is simply no ‘business case’ to operate.”
She also advocated the creation of a Unified Community Anchor Network, which would enable anchor institutions, including libraries, to use their connectivity to reach out to the community. The plan suggests that members of the anchor network use proven methods developed by non-profit organizations and research and education organizations to include as many non-broadband adopters as possible.
According to Clyburn, research and education broadband networks provide high-speed internet service to 66,000 anchor institutions, which she called a good start. However, she said, “when you consider that there are over 210,000 anchor institutions, then you realize that the federal government and other stakeholders should do a better job of leveraging the power of research and education networks to bring more high speed connectivity to our nation.”
She also addressed the concern that broadband availability will not prompt broadband adoption. She said that even as the FCC encourages broadband connection in the home, it should still continue to support libraries and anchor institutions that provide digital literacy education; 22 percent of the 100 million Americans without broadband service cite a lack of digital literacy as the main cause for non-adoption.
Clyburn said, “Library professionals are the front line warriors of the adoption battle. Your daily exposure to the public in over 122,000 libraries is something no federal agency can duplicate. As a result, you can provide us with important information about how we can address our nation’s digital literacy challenges.”