Broadband is a tremendous American success story. Cable facilities offering high speed data services reach 93 percent of American homes. Since 1996, Time Warner Cable (TWC) has invested billions of dollars to facilitate and improve high-speed Internet access service and enhance deployment in the communities we serve. The rate of broadband adoption has been among the fastest of any consumer product or service in our country’s history. That said, factors such as relevance, cost of equipment and service, and digital literacy hold some consumers back from adopting broadband.
On February 7, the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services, with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will hold a summit to discuss best practices learned from broadband adoption programs and academic studies/surveys. Participants will attempt to identify how best practices can close the broadband adoption gap among Americans – particularly low-income households, racial and ethnic minorities, seniors, rural residents, residents of Tribal lands and people with disabilities.
TWC shares the goal of a connected nation where all interested Americans subscribe to broadband service. And we recognize that, despite efforts by industry, government, and the community based non-profits, affordability, relevance and other factors continue to be barriers for some Americans. So we’ve undertaken a number of initiatives across our footprint in ways that are tailored to address these barriers in the communities we serve, including promoting low-cost broadband to over 300,000 eligible students through our “Starter Internet” program; sponsoring technology centers for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); promoting the broadband through PSAs for the Broadband Opportunity Coalition; and participating in “NYC Connected Learning.” We hope these projects, in addition to technology and computer centers we sponsor in other communities across our footprint, will promote digital literacy and help close the digital divide.
In addition to these programs, we’ve benefited from the rich scholarship addressing barriers to broadband adoption. We are trying to play a constructive role in adding to that knowledge base as well. Three years ago we established the Time Warner Cable Research Program on Digital Communications, which provides stipends for papers addressing policy challenges in the telecommunications industry. One of our research papers examines strategies to promote access to broadband for people with disabilities. Other papers include a look at the factors influencing broadband adoption by Latino consumers, a review of broadband’s role promoting employment and economic opportunity for African American communities, and an analysis of the correlation between broadband access in the home and employment. We hope and expect to continue work in this important policy area going forward.
Without question, there are still challenges looming to help more Americans adopt broadband. While the summit convenes on February 7, we will continue working with our partners and colleagues in industry, academia and government to overcome those barriers to broadband adoption and promote the use of this important technology in the communities we serve.