The American Library Association today hosted an event in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill to unveil the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) study findings of the SSRC report Broadband Adoption in Low-Income Communities.
The FCC commissioned the study to help inform their understanding of barriers to broadband adoption and to shape the National Broadband Plan due to Congress on March 17 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The study highlights how libraries and other community organizations fill the gap between low home adoption and high community demand and provide a number of other critical services, such as training and support. According to the study, these support organizations often they help users gain the skills that lead to confident, sustainable home broadband adoption. Yet, these support organizations are under severe economic pressure to meet community connectivity needs.
The presenters discussed the contexts for understanding barriers to broadband adoption. Such challenges vary from price to skill and language barriers to the challenges of community-based organizations, such as libraries, in providing broadband access for those without it at home as well as instruction on using the Internet.
The SSRC study found that public libraries are critical anchor institutions that enable social and economic inclusion in many communities due to their role as primary providers of broadband access, training and support for those without broadband at home.
The study suggests that supporting the mission with core technology funding and specialized staff is an efficient way of mitigating the high costs of digital exclusion.
Presenters at the event included John Horrigan, Consumer Research Director, FCC; Mark Lloyd, Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer, FCC; Dharma Dailey, Independent Researcher, SSRC; Amelia Bryne, Independent Researcher, SSRC; and Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of ALA’s Washington Office.