activists: Internet companies must partner with ethnic media to bridge the digital divide – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentry

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Advocates: Internet companies must partner with ethnic media to bridge the digital divide

Phrase Digital Divide written with an old vintage typewriter

Advocates of digital equity – people who have worked for decades to find solutions to reduce the gap between those who are connected to broadband and those who still are not – argue that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must partner with ethnic media to reach people in California who remain unconnected and under-connected to broadband service.

“We focused on the importance of community and ethnic media. We believe internet service providers should advertise to (ethnic media), contact you and connect with you, ”said Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a non-profit organization. statewide with offices in Concord and Los Angeles is dedicated to bridging the digital divide.

According to McPeak, with its 91% broadband adoption rate, California has done a remarkable job of bringing people online with stable access to high-speed internet connections that can improve their quality of life. That number skyrocketed 55% in 2008.

= However, there are still 6 million Californians, she says, who are not or under-connected (those with only smartphone access) to broadband. Most of these people live in low income households.

Among Californians not connected to high-speed Internet, 8%, or more than half of them, are black, according to the CETF.

“There is still clearly a divide between the most digitally disadvantaged socio-economically groups,” said McPeak. “No state has more low-income people than California. 15% of our population is low income.

McPeak was speaking at a press briefing organized by Ethnic Media Services last week titled “Trapped by the Digital Divide: Demand Universal Broadband as a Fundamental Right”.

McPeak was joined at the online conference by Angela Siefer, executive director of the Cleveland-based National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA).

Siefer shared national figures that reflect that the vast majority of people who are still not connected to the internet live in urban areas, challenging a widely held notion that rural areas remain the regions least connected to broadband to the Internet. United States.

“Before the pandemic, 36 million American homes did not have an Internet connection in their homes,” Seifer said. “Of this number, 26 million are urban and 10 million are rural. I want to confirm that the biggest number of this is urban. “

In addition to having a high broadband adoption rate, California continues to take a number of steps to ensure that there is universal broadband connectivity.

Last week, Governor Newsom promulgated Senate Bill (SB) 156. This legislation requires the state to invest billions of dollars in building a state-owned open access cable Internet network with multiple branch lines that will connect unserved households and businesses, primarily in urban areas. and rural.

“As we work to rebuild California stronger than before, the state is committed to addressing the challenges exposed by the pandemic, including the digital divide that is holding back too many communities in a state renowned for its technology. pioneer and its innovation economy, ”Newsom said. in a rural elementary school in Tulare County.

“This $ 6 billion investment will make broadband more accessible than ever, expanding opportunities across the spectrum for students, families and businesses – from enhanced educational supports to employment opportunities to healthcare and other services. essential, ”continued the governor.

Also continuing to ensure that as many Californians as possible have not only access to broadband but also reliable equipment to connect to it, California State University has announced that it will offer all students incoming and transferred to eight of its campuses across the state from new iPad air tablets. . The package includes accessories including smart keyboards. The only requirement for students is to register on a website called SUCCESS (CSU connectivity contributing to equity and student success)

“CSUCCESS will ensure students have immediate access to the innovative new mobile tools they need to support their learning, especially in the face of the lingering effects of the pandemic,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro, announcing the initiative.

McPeak says there are a number of programs like the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that can help Americans connect to high-speed internet more affordably, but many people simply don’t know about them. not.

“We have to ask ourselves what are (ISPs) doing to work with ethnic media and community organizations? McPeak asked.


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