FCC Creating Digital Literacy Corp, Ponders Free/Low Cost Broadband Service

Corps would boost adoption by training people in low-adoption areas

The FCC wants to create a digital literacy corps to help
boost broadband adoption by training people in low-adoption areas, which
include rural and low income communities, and at the same time boost the skills
of those doing the training. It also wants the government to consider using
spectrum to create a free or low-cost broadband service.

Those were among the key takeaways from a Knight
Commission Digital Inclusion Summit in Washington,
where FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other commissioners unveiled yet
another piece of the broadband plan in what has become an ongoing road show of
recommended proposals.

Driving the FCC's focus on adoption are the almost 40
million Americans that haven't adopted broadband.

The FCC will also team with the Knight Foundation on the
Knight/FCC "Apps for Inclusion" Challenge, a contest that will offer cash
($100,000 from Knight Foundation) to software developers who can provide easier
online access to government information, including tracking voting records.
That is another element in digital inclusion, says Knight.

Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation, called
Genachowski the foundation's "hero of the day."

Genachowski said that rural, minority, low-income, seniors,
the disabled and tribal communities have fallen behind in broadband, and the
cost of digital exclusion is "high and growing higher every day."

Other inclusion proposals include creating an "online
skills" portal with free lessons and digital education, though of course
that will require broadband availability.

The FCC will also recommend public funding for the National
Telecommunications & Information Administration to support public-private
partnerships for outreach and education and targeted support for senior

As the FCC said last week in talking about expanding the
Universal Service Fund, another proposal for adoption by underserved
communities is using its lifeline and link-up service subsidies.  Those had previously been focused on
wirelines but the commission is considering using them for broadband and some
spectrum for a free or low-cost broadband service.