I DARE ANYONE TO disagree with this statement: “A child without access to the Internet will find life increasingly difficult in the information age.”
That was how Greg reported what National Cable and Telecommunications Association president and CEO Michael Powell said during his keynote speech [pdf, 133KB] yesterday at the 2012 Cable Show in Boston.
Many Americans still are not online and that needs to change. Cable is working to increase adoption by partnering with the FCC to launch a low cost broadband service to low income families across America. This is critical because a child without access to the Internet will find life increasingly difficult in the Information Age.
It has been way too easy for most leaders to equate broadband leadership with rural subsidies.
It isn’t about access. It is about affordability. Most households with a computer have broadband connections. There are too many households that don’t even have computers.
Last Wednesday, I wrote about the need to find a leader who will step up to the challenge of providing all school kids in Canada with the tools to compete in a digital economy.
As Greg wrote:
In the U.S., if a family qualifies for help under the National School Lunch Program, and isn’t already a broadband customer, they can sign up for a $9.95 per month broadband connection (with no installation charges, a low-cost or free modem and a minimum 1 Mbps download speed promise), access to other agencies and programs offering discounted computers, security software and training on how to use their new connectivity, too. The pilot project is wrapping up in San Diego, with a national rollout beginning here in September.
Such a program works from a business perspective, too. We’re not talking about substituting a bunch of $40/month subscriptions for ones at $9.95. These low-income customers will be newcomers who previously couldn’t afford broadband. We’re talking about homes already in the ISP’s footprints which currently are generating no Internet revenue.
This kind of program needs to be launched in Canada. No child should be without access to the Internet in a digital Canada.
Who will lead this initiative? Will it be a CEO from a major ISP or a government leader, such as the Industry Minister, the CRTC Chair or our Governor General? We need a leader willing to take a bold step for Canadian kids to compete in the information age. Who will step up to the challenge?