Connect2Compete, a public-private partnership spearheaded in 2011 by the
Federal Communications Commission to hasten the national adoption of broadband
in the United States, will work with the Department of Labor to provide digital
literacy training at nearly 2,800 employment and training centers operated by
the agency, officials announced July 16.
Connect2Compete will train employees at the Labor Department's American Job
Centers on the nonprofit's services, including discounted broadband internet
access service and refurbished laptops.
Later this year, the partnership will launch a nationwide digital literacy
database, which will be available both online and through a toll-free phone
call, and promoted by a nationwide advertising campaign by the Ad Council.
“Offline Americans are missing out on education opportunities, health care
opportunities, and, yes, job opportunities,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
said at an event at the Arlington, Va., Department of Human Services Arlington
Employment Center. “In today's world, you need broadband to find a job, apply
for a job, and you need digital skills to keep most of today's jobs. Almost all
Fortune 500 companies post job openings exclusively online.”
The FCC attributes non-adoption rates to, among other things, cost, low
education, and a lack of digital literacy.
Based on studies conducted by the FCC, less than a third of the poorest
Americans subscribe to broadband, while nearly 90 percent of the nation's more
prosperous individuals do.
According to a 2010 FCC survey, less than half of the adults with high school
degrees are broadband users at home, while 82 percent of adults who have
attended or graduated from college use broadband at home. Scarcely more than
half of Americans in households with annual incomes of $50,000 or below have
broadband service at home, compared with 87 percent of those in households with
incomes above that level.
In the same study, the FCC found that nearly 25 percent of non-adopters of
broadband are “uncomfortable with computers” and said they lack the necessary
skill sets needed to surf the web. Another 19 percent questioned the relevance
of broadband to their lives. Some said the internet is a “waste of time” while
the dial-up internet users surveyed said they are content with their current
Another study by the Digital Impact Group and Econsult Corporation estimates
that the direct economic cost to the nation of non-adoption is $55 billion a
By Paul Barbagallo