Hispanic Institute Urges Universal Broadband Access

The Hispanic Institute has collaborated with black, Native
American and Asian-American elected officials on a report explaining broadband's
key role in fomenting opportunity for the nation's communities of color.

The Washington, D.C.-based group and its partners are also
urging lawmakers at all levels of government to expand high-speed Internet
access for all Americans.

The report, TowardsAccess, Adoption & Inclusion: A Call for Digital Equality and BroadbandOpportunity,
includes data from institutions such as the Pew
Hispanic Center
and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute that suggests a digital divide within the
Latino community that falls along linguistic lines.

For example: while English-dominant Latinos subscribe to
broadband services at a higher rate than non-Hispanic whites (68% of those
surveyed having broadband services at home), Spanish-dominant Latinos lag well
behind, with only 32% using the Internet in any form in 2006, compared to 78% of
English-dominant Latinos and 76% of bilingual speakers.

Also in 2006, data from Pew showed that just 41% of all
Hispanics had broadband access at home.

"Broadband is the best opportunity for people of color to
advance in the areas of education, health care, and economic development," Hispanic
Institute board chair Gus West said in a statement. "It is imperative that
leaders in these communities have a seat at the technology and
telecommunications policymaking table."

According to officials at The Hispanic Institute, the Federal
Communications Commission is currently studying these issues and plans to
report on a National Broadband Plan by Feb. 17 to ensure all people of the United
States have access to broadband capability.

Some are urging that the FCC not only focus on increasing
universal broadband adoption but that it also revisit the open Internet rules
that former FCC chairman Michael Powell conceived in 2004 and which the agency
formally adopted in 2005.