The Connected Nation Blog: Former FCC Commissioner Addresses the Need to Expand Broadband in Puerto Rico

Friday, November 18, 2011

Former FCC Commissioner Addresses the Need to Expand Broadband in Puerto Rico

Broadband holds the keys to our communities’ economic and social prosperity

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Former Federal Communications Commissioner and Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) Strategic Counsel Henry Rivera highlighted the importance of expanding broadband and closing the digital divide for Latinos in a speech Thursday to the National Caucus of Hispanic State Legislator Summit at the El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo.

Rivera, who was the first Hispanic FCC Commissioner, works with the IIA to promote universal broadband. IIA is a national coalition dedicated to expanding access to high-speed broadband to all Americans including in Puerto Rico.

During his presentation — Connecting the Dots in the Digital Age: Policy, Social Capital and Advocacy — he called for eliminating the gap, or “digital divide,” that exists between those who have access to information technology and the resources and skills necessary to effectively participate as digital citizens and those who do not.

“You can see the link between broadband and opportunity, between broadband and an overall potential for improvement in so many areas of life and living,” said Rivera. “Latino families that do not have access to broadband, or that have access but do not adopt broadband technology, will inevitably be left behind in this new Internet age. It is as simple as that and it’s an outcome our country cannot afford.”

In a recently released report by Connect Puerto Rico, new data estimates indicate that 86% of households have broadband available at basic connection speeds (768 kbps download/200 kbps upload speeds). The estimate drops significantly when looking at higher connection speeds necessary to support Internet applications that consumers are increasingly demanding, such as video streaming. An estimated 41% of households across the island have broadband available at speeds of 6 Mbps/768 kbps or higher.

“The Latino community has many pressing challenges as we look for ways to grow the economy, grow jobs, make healthcare more affordable and accessible, and increase the quality of our educational system,“ said Rivera. “While jobs are a priority for everyone, they are particularly critical for our community because unemployment among Latinos is above 11 percent, significantly higher than the national average.”

Rivera is also a partner with Wiley Rein LLP, where he specializes in representing telecom and media companies before the FCC, Congress, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the White House.

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