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The Cable Show 2011: Genachowski to Challenge Cable to Close Broadband Gap

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is creating a Broadband Adoption Task Force, which he will announce at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association Cable Show in Chicago Wednesday.

Genachowski, who is slated for a keynote interview Wednesday morning (June 15) at the opening general session by NCTA President Michael Powell, plans to call on cable operators to "build on their excellent work" in broadband adoption by finishing the job.

"As an industry, you've connected two-thirds of Americans to broadband - and I applaud you for that. Now, let's work together to connect the last third - nearly 100 million people - so all Americans can participate fully in our 21st century economy and society," he plans to say, according to highlights of his speech supplied by the chairman's office.

According to Genachowski, the economic cost to the country of those 100 million nonadopters is $55 billion a year, while closing the gap could create "millions" of jobs.

The task force will be headed by Genachowski senior counselor Josh Gottheimer. According to Genachowski, Gottheimer will work with agency and private and public sectors reps to brainstorm strategies for closing the adoption gap.

Genachowski plans to talk about the 100 million Americans who do not subscribe to broadband and identifying the causes as cost, digital literacy and relevance.

Comcast, NTCA's largest member, has pledged to work on lowering at least two of those barriers with its promise to the FCC of low-cost high-speed broadband and digital literacy programs as part of its NBCU deal. That program launches with the 2011-2012 school year.

Genachowski has made broadband deployment and adoption, through a combination of wired and wireless broadband, a priority for the commission.

Genachowski and former FCC Chairman and current NCTA President Michael Powell have been friends for two decades, dating back to when both were clerking for federal judges in Washington.