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FCC's Clyburn: Cost at Root of Digital DIvide

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn says lowering the price, not raising the relevance, of broadband for low-income Americans is the key to bridging the ongoing digital divide.

That came in a speech to the National Urban League Thursday, according to a copy of her remarks.

"Broadband is breaking down barriers to achievement for minorities, people with disabilities, and the poor," she said, but added that for too many affordability continues to be the great un-equalizer.

"We have all heard that relevance, not cost, is the reason many do not have broadband. But as community leaders, you know firsthand that when you ask that proud senior on a fixed income whether she wants to sign up for broadband, her dignity will never allow her to admit that she cannot afford it," Clyburn told her audience. "She will tell you that she does not need it, but we know that is just not true."

To her point, Clyburn spotlighted the deal condition in the AT&T/DirecTV merger approval in which the combined company will have to provide stand-alone, high-speed (rather than baseline speed) broadband (10 Mbps) without connection fees or other charges, to low-income families.

Clyburn has been a big supporter of expanding the Lifeline telecommunications subsidy for low-income families to broadband. (