WASHINGTON, June 11, 2013 – Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn discussed her work at the agency and her plans for the future of the FCC with National Cable and Telecommunications CEO Michael Powell at the opening session of the second day of the NCTA’s annual Cable Show.
Clyburn described the success of the FCC so far in upholding its responsibilities, including making industry measurements, meeting deadlines with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, and work to bridge the digital divide throughout America. She also praised cable companies for their success in helping to close that gap.
“You’ve done an incredible job connecting this nation,” Clyburn told Powell.
However, Clyburn also noted that the current state of connectivity is insufficient. Although most Americans have access to broadband, about 100 million have still chosen not to receive service. Encouraging broadband adoption is an important step in attaining the FCC’s goal in connecting America, said Clyburn. To accomplish this, a number of obstacles must be overcome, including costs, lack of digital literacy, and unawareness of potential benefits.
These benefits include improved healthcare, better education, and more business opportunities, and can make a significant difference in struggling communities, according to Clyburn.
“Broadband is the great equalizer for a whole host of people,” she said.
Improving broadband availability will require utilization of a variety of technologies, Clyburn noted. Both wireline and wireless will be needed, depending on what would be most efficient for the particular situation.
“It’s not economically efficient to literally hard-wire this entire country,” she said.
To achieve such a high level of connectivity, Clyburn said that government will need to be engaged and partner with the private sector. Accordingly, Clyburn praised President Barack Obama’s ConnectEd initiative, which will utilize public, private, and community support to provide broadband access to 99 percent of students within the next five years.