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Levin: Net Has Potential to Improve Minority Job, Health Care, Education Opportunities

The Internet has the potential to "exacerbate in
equality," which is why universal broadband deployment and adoption is so
important, said the FCC's top broadband advisor Blair Levin, at the Minority
Media & Telecommunications Association's conference on Broadband and Social
Justice in Washington Friday (Jan. 22).

While closing the digital divide was no guarantee of
redressing the in "income inequality, residential segregation and social
isolation," Levin said had grown in the past 30 years, that access can
provide better jobs, education, health care and government services, which
should not be denied to anyone.

But access means more than availability, he said, and
adoption continues to be a key challenge.

Levin, who is overseeing preparation of the national
broadband plan, said keys to spurring that adoption are a "social
infrastructure" that "weaves our investments in digital access into
the fabric of our communities," with that fabric including libraries and
community centers; "social innovation" like online credit counseling
or grant programs to "micro entrepreneurs; and "social purpose
media," which means high-value content from private and government

"We must ensure that there are no digital second class
citizens," Levin told his audience.