NCTA, Computer Companies, Telcos and Nonprofits Form Digital Adoption Coalition

Coalition looking to bring broadband to low-income households

The National Cable & Telecommunications
Association (NCTA) has joined with computer companies, telcos and a couple
of broadband-centric nonprofits in a Digital Adoption Coalition (DAC) that is
seeking broadband stimulus bucks.

The goal of the coalition, which is led by nonprofit
broadband adoption organization One Economy, is to bring broadband to as many
as 250,000 low-income households.

If it gets the money--it put in a bid March 15, the deadline
for the second round of stimulus fund broadband bids--the coalition will work
with HUD to get broadband to public housing via low-cost access, equipment
(computers) and training.

NCTA has been prepped for the job, having announced its
Adoption-Plus initiative. Participating cable operators are ready to deliver
half-price service to low-income homes with middle school kids, but that
program was contingent on government-funded training and education and the kind
of tech-support that companies like Intel, Microsoft and Dell are providing as
part of the DAC.

This now expands the potential cable broadband price cuts to include other low-income families, though there will obviously be some overlap since there will be cerainly be some middleschooler homes among the 250,000 HUD-qualified homes. "HUD will identify eligible households for the service. The computer companies provide affordable hardware - which would be partly subsidized by the stimulus funding - and software, to help make families broadband-ready," said NCTA EVP James Assey in a blog posting on the coalition. "The nonprofits then provide training in digital skills and literacy, to families that are new to broadband. And once these pieces are in place, the ISPs would offer deep discounts on broadband service, reduced-price or free modems, and free standard installation."

Assey pointed out that the coalition was directly responsive to the FCC's new national broadband plan, which called for "public-private partnerships of hardware manufacturers, software companies, broadband service providers, and digital literacy training partners to improve broadband adoption and utilization by working with federal agencies already serving non-adopting communities."

Assey said that combining the DAC proposal with Adoption-Plus, "we have hit the mark."

The coalition inlcudes AT&T, BendBroadband, Bresnan Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Connected Nation, Eagle Communications, Inc., Dell, Intel Corporation, Mediacom Communications Corp., Microsoft, Midcontinent Communications, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), One Economy Corporation, Sjoberg's Cable TV, Suddenlink Communications, Time Warner Cable, US Cable Group, and USTelecom.