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  • Broadband -- high-speed Internet -- is revolutionizing the way we work, learn, provide services, and play, and has the power to be a galvanizing political tool, uniting progressives across the nation.  Combined with investments in digital inclusion programs that are needed to prepare the next generation of workers, and public investments in local technology, states can incorporate technological advancement as a key part of a progressive economic growth agenda.

    High-speed Internet has been one of the most transformative communication technologies in human history; just as important as other traditional public goods or infrastructure investments. It is no longer a luxury—but a public necessity. With universal and affordable high-speed Internet, states can leverage technology as an economic development tool and a means of providing better healthcare services, smarter environmental policies, and greater educational opportunities. As this packet will demonstrate, promoting increased access to and adoption of high-speed Internet,will not only provide many societal benefits, but can unite economic development experts, healthcare advocates, environmentalist, labor unions andeducators.

    Unfortunately, nearly 20 million Americans today do not have access to a singlehigh-speed Internet provider, and even more are currently priced outof the market. In fact, roughly 40 percent of American households do not have broadband. This number shows how unprepared Americans are for the technology age in which they live. A closer look at the numbers reveals that access and use of the Internet is heavily weighted toward the upper echelons of society. Certain demographics have effectively been left out of the digital renaissance.

    A study conducted in 2007 found that geography, income, ethnicity, education andage all impact high-speed Internet adoption.

    • Geographic Divide: Broadband Internet adoption in rural areas lags behind adoption in urban and suburban communities. Only 39% of rural households report having high-speed Internet.
    • Economic Divide: Only 35% of homes with less than $50,000 in annual income have high-speed Internet, while 76% of households earning more than $50,000 per year are connected.
    • Racial / Ethnical Divide: High-speed Internet adoption varies depending on race. 55% of non-Hispanic whites have high-speed Internet access at home, while only 40% of racial and ethnic minorities do.


    Source: US 2007 Census

    While the U.S. has struggled to combat our nation’s digital divide, other countries have instituted serious deploymentplans and regulatory schemes to ensure wide-spread adoption of broadband Internet. Today, our European andAsian counterparts greatly outpace us in development of high-speed Internet infrastructure. For the second year in a row, the U.S. ranked 15th  among the 30 members of the Organizationfor Economic Cooperation & Development in terms of high-speed Internet subscription. Additionally, U.S.broadband Internet providers often charge higher prices for slower connectionthan providers in many developed nations.

    Change in High-Speed Internet Penetration Ranking (2001-2007)

    Rank

    2001

    2007

    1

    South Korea

    Denmark

    2

    Canada

    Netherlands

    3

    Sweden

    Iceland

    4

    United States

    Norway

    5

    Belgium

    Switzerland

    6

    Denmark

    Finland

    7

    Netherlands

    South Korea

    8

    Iceland

    Sweden

    9

    Austria

    Luxembourg

    10

    Germany

    Canada

    11

    Japan

    United Kingdom

    12

    Switzerland

    Belgium

    13

    Norway

    France

    14

    Finland

    Germany

    15

    Spain

    United States

    International Comparison: United States Broadband Decline Source: OECD 2007

    The lack of effective federal government action to date should compel states to bridge the digital divide. States need to create policies to promote access to and utilization of high-speed Internet and related applications. Technology is our greatest partner and asset as we work to conquer the challenges that threaten our future. Universal affordable high-speed Internet:

    • Can help rejuvenate a lagging economy: Spurs economic development, increases economic equality and increased job opportunities.
    • Provides more accessible healthcare: Supports the merging of technology and basic services to provide increased accessibility and for certain residents, better quality in areas such as healthcare, e-government, and education.
    • Can be leveraged to reduce our carbon footprint and energy use: Permits more efficient energy use and can be an essential component of many environmentally friendly policies.
    • Promotes a diversity of voices: Provides more accessible media and creative outlets to all communities.
    • Increases democracy: High-speed Internet allows for a more participatory and efficient democratic system. Individuals with broadband find it easier to research candidates and can review local and state hearings and agency meetings.

    The key to advancing the widespread adoption of high-speed Internet in the states is to promote universal, affordable high-speed Internet, fund digital inclusion programs, educate leaders and the public on how toutilize high-speed Internet for economic and social benefits, and to supportlocal investment in technology based growth.

    • Universal, Affordable High-speed Internet Policies: To compete on a global level and to ensure equity of services to citizens, states should promote universal affordable high-speed Internet. Without universal and affordable high-speed Internet, a state’s ability to leverage technology as an economic development tool and a means of providing better healthcare services, smarter environmental policies and greater educational opportunities, is severely limited. The first step states need to take to provide affordable high-speed Internet for all is to determine where high-speed Internet access is lacking. Once under-served populations are determined, states can develop technology councils to plan the strategic deployment of high-speed Internet, capable of supporting advanced applications.
    • Increasing Technology Literacy Equalizes Opportunities: In every state there exists a digital divide between those who have access to high-speed Internet and those who do not. The digital divide, however, is not only a function of lacking access to high-speed Internet, but also lacking the necessary technology literacy skills to function in our 21st century digital world. Increasingly, jobs in both the service and manufacturing sectors, in particular higher paying jobs, require digital skills. Combating the digital divide is a key component to combating the growing economic inequality in this country. Therefore, states must compliment high-speed Internet deployment by supporting digital education programs, funding community technology centers, and establishing computer disbursement programs. Such programs help to ensure that residents of all ethnicities, social economic backgrounds, and ages understand how to be producers for as well as consumers of this 21st century economy.
    • High-speed Internet Rejuvenates the Economy and Promotes Better Healthcare, Environmental Policies and Educational Opportunities: High-speed Internet infrastructure is the key to states rejuvenating and sustaining their economy. Universal and affordable high-speed Internet enables states to utilize technology to provide better access to healthcare, promote energy efficient and environmentally friendly policies, and provide increased educational opportunities to all. For example, the utilization of telehealth technology has the potential to deliver huge cost savings to America's health care system---over $300 billion annually. And this is just one sliver of the savings pie. It is estimated that widespread adoption of high-speed Internet will add $134 billion to the U.S. economy annually and create 1.2 million new jobs per year.
    • Local Investments for Technology-Based Growth: State governments manage trillions of dollars in financial assets. This money can be a key tool to promote technology innovation and economic equity. Linking state-controlled financial capital with university innovation and local entrepreneurial energy can not only jumpstart job creation that will accompany high-speed Internet deployment, but can also be used to revitalize economically abandoned communities most in need of jobs.

    The benefits of high-speed Internet, laid out in this packet, are clear and overwhelming. Yet, to achieve wide-spread adoption of high-speed Internet, resourcesmust be provided from public funds or public/private partnerships. Despite claims by telecommunication providers that the market will deliver these benefits to everyone, the reality is that state leaders need to leverage funding and public rights of ways as a means to bring build-out to under-served and un-served areas, provide affordable access for low-income families, and to establish regulatory oversight to protect consumer rights. Further, state leaders need to make sure that all of their residents areprovided with both the digital skills and capital investments needed to takefull advantage of this new communication technology.


    General Resources for Broadband Buildout and Technology Investments
    Free Press - Accessing the CurrentDigital Divide Brochure
    Educause White Paper - A Blueprintfor Big Broadband
    OECD - OECDHigh-speed Internet Portal HouseholdCensus Information 2007
    National GovernorsAssociation - StatesTake Action to Expand Access to High-speed Internet Communication
    Leadership Conference on Civil Rights —Solvingthe Persistent Problem of the Digital Divide
    TheBaller Herbst Law Group - Capturing the Promise ofBroadband for North Carolina and America
    States and Local Investments - Community-Wealth.org
    National Association of Seed and Venture Funds

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    Broadband -- high-speed Internet -- is revolutionizing the way we work, learn, provide services, and play, and has the power to be a galvanizing political tool, uniting progressives across the nation.  Combined with investments in digital inclusion programs that are needed to prepare the next generation of workers, and public investments in local technology, states can incorporate technological advancement as a key part of aprogressive economic growth agenda.

    High-speed Internet has been one of the most transformative communication technologies in human history; just as important as other traditional public goods or infrastructure investments. It is no longer a luxury—but a public necessity. With universal and affordable high-speed Internet, states can leverage technology as an economic development tool and a means of providing better healthcare services, smarter environmental policies, and greater educational opportunities. As this packet will demonstrate, promoting increased access to and adoption of high-speed Internet,will not only provide many societal benefits, but can unite economic development experts, healthcare advocates, environmentalist, labor unions and educators.

    Unfortunately, nearly 20 million Americans today do not have access to a single high-speed Internet provider, and even more are currently priced out of the market. In fact, roughly 40 percent of American households do not have broadband. This number shows how unprepared Americans are for the technology age in which they live. A closer look at the numbers reveals that access and use of the Internet is heavily weighted toward the upper echelons of society. Certain demographics have effectivelybeen left out of the digital renaissance.