FCC's Clyburn emphasizes importance of increasing broadband, digital literacy

WASHINGTON, D.C.--During the opening general session here at The Cable Show, acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn spoke to NCTA President Michael Powell about the importance of making broadband available to all Americans in an increasingly digital world.

Source: FCC

"This is an incredible time to be in this space," Clyburn said of the cable industry. "The employees at the agencies are so excited and dedicated to do the right thing, to bridge those divides, to really be the drivers as it relates to innovation."

Asking Clyburn's opinion on the evolution of broadband and the Internet, Powell noted the new technologies "have so radically transformed what it is we're focused on as a country for communication policy."

"We've done an incredible job of connecting this nation," said Clyburn. "Most of America has access to broadband, but our job is not done. We cannot be satisfied with the majority of Americans having access."

Clyburn said nearly 100 million Americans still do not adopt broadband at home and "cost is still a factor in some areas," as is digital literacy.

The chairwoman added that in her home state of South Carolina, "I see glaring disparities in health care, in education, in business opportunities. But I also know that broadband has the potential to be a great equalizer."

Clyburn cited foreign languages, medical expertise and job searches as areas that would be served by an increase in broadband adoption.

"At the click of a mouse, you can create a connection with individuals all over the world and increase your opportunities," she said. "This is a phenomenal time. This is a phenomenal technology."

Clyburn also addressed an initiative announced by President Obama last week to make broadband available to 99 percent of American students within five years, lauding the president's "all of the above approach."

"It will take industry as well as government and community members all focused on this opportunity to serve our children and our teachers to the best of our abilities," Clyburn said.

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