Some segments of the population are being left behind even as broadband access makes dramatic gains across the United States, according to a report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Minority and low-income people were particularly hard-hit by this newly emerging digital divide, according to the report. In particular, InformationWeek reports, blacks, Latinos and people with disabilities.
There is also evidence of a regional divide, with people in the Midwest and South having lower high-speed Internet access rates than in the Northeast and West.
“Americans who lack broadband Internet access are cut off from many educational and employment opportunities,” said NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling.
What the government can learn from the findings, he said, is there is no “simple ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to closing the digital divide.
“A combination of approaches makes sense, including targeted outreach programs to rural and minority populations emphasizing the benefits of broadband,” he added.
InformationWeek reports the new survey comes as Congress is set to begin considering the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband plan, which the agency released in March, according to PC World.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the report’s findings are striking evidence of how inequities that exist in society are transferred to the digital realm.
“The digital divide is an opportunity divide — it you can’t get online, you can’t compete in the digital economy,” he said. “The NTIA’s new report provides an in-depth look at the persistent gaps between the digital haves and the digital have-nots. Closing these gaps is one of the top priorities of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.”