Monday, May 19, 2008

USA - digital divide on economic, health and economic benefits

Study Released Showing Correlation Between Broadband Access and Economic, Health and Educational Benefits

The Alliance for Digital Equality, a non-profit consumer advocacy group formed to increase minority access to broadband Internet, released a new study linking access to broadband Internet to better employment, health care and educational opportunities.

The study, Affordable Broadband: Empowering Communities Across the Digital Divide, shows that only 40 percent of black Americans have broadband Internet as compared to 48 percent of white Americans. The program also served to introduce members of a newly formed Miami Digital Empowerment Council (DEC), part of the Alliance's nationwide initiative that advocates for increased broadband access - especially in urban and underserved communities. The Miami DEC is charged with studying the effects of broadband access on Hispanic and African-American communities in South Florida and will be one of many nationwide efforts by The Alliance to bring together community leaders who can provide keen insight and direction to improve digital empowerment opportunities for all citizens.

"For those individuals with access to broadband and other cutting-edge technologies, unprecedented opportunity is available," said Julius H. Hollis, Chairman of The Alliance for Digital Equality. "It is the goal of The Alliance to become the voice of underserved communities and to ensure that broadband remains affordable so that the newest online users have continued access and that the last ones on aren't the first ones off."

"It really scares me, as a father, as a mayor and as a human being that the world around us is transferring information and knowledge at a pace never seen before," said Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. "Our kids are going to live in an entirely different world than the one we have lived in. They are going to compete against kids in New Delhi, Shanghai, Madrid, Rio, you name it. If we don't give them the tools they are going to be left behind and the economic divide will be greater than it has ever been in history. If we want to stay competitive as a city, as a state, as a country, we have to start to make these investments now."

Broadband Internet access helps create wealth and opportunity for communities that are wired. The study found that while there remains a substantial gap in broadband usage between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest, a drop in monthly rates has allowed for a greater number of minorities to join the broadband revolution. Among households with annual incomes of less than $30,000 per year, the number of high-speed Internet connections has doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent in the past two years.

"Broadband affords Americans opportunities to benefit from new technologies and progress in areas such as education and economic development," said Bill Diggs ADE Board Member and President & CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce. "Access to new technologies can open the door for children, students and businesses to be better equipped to meet the demands of rapidly changing environments and capitalize on new opportunities."

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