Since the early 1990s when consumers first got online, the internet has taken on a larger and larger role in everyday life. It’s now an integral part of nearly every aspect of our day, from emails to Zoom meetings. As the internet’s reach expands, it’s crucial to ensure there is equitable access to high-speed broadband services so that everyone has the same opportunities to benefit from the internet. Unfortunately, some populations don’t have the same access as others to the internet, and there’s a risk of them being left behind.
The remote schooling and working trends that grew in the last year have only increased our need for fast, reliable internet access. As we spent time at home, many aspects of life including education, health care and even work moved online. If certain portions of the population don’t have equal access to these services, the results only grow more devastating for their already at-risk communities..
The Widening Digital Gap and the Latimer Plan
Black, Latino and Native American communities are less likely to have internet access than white or Asian people, which creates the risk of those communities being left out of economic, social, and political aspects of life in today’s society. That’s why Robert F. Smith and Marc Morial joined Reverend Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation” to discuss the broadband gap and the Latimer Plan.
The Latimer Plan was created by the National Urban League to achieve digital equity and promote inclusion. It recognizes that communities of color face five principal gaps:
- The Availability Gap — Broadband isn’t available to millions of Americans, stopping them from participating in the economy, obtaining health services and creating social connections.
- The Adoption Gap — Even where broadband access is available, tens of millions of Americans have not adopted high-speed internet in their homes or businesses.
- The Affordability Gap — The high cost of broadband is a barrier to millions of Americans, particularly people of color.
- The Access to Economic Opportunity Gap — Because people of color are less likely to be able to have access to the internet and because economic opportunities are increasingly digital, there is the potential for a racial economic opportunity gap to grow.
- The Utilization Gap — Ensuring every person is able to effectively utilize essential services using broadband, such as workforce development, health care and education.
The plan calls for increasing internet availability, boosting adoption of broadband and expanding access to economic opportunities through the internet. Addressing those gaps will help millions of individuals and businesses fully participate in today’s society.
The 2% Solution to the Broadband Access Gap
Robert F. Smith’s 2% Solution also addresses issues of our country’s drastically divided populations. It presses on a lack of equity in banking, health care, education, as well as the digital divide, and how we can bridge those gaps through a 2% investment of profits from the country’s top companies. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as well as telecom companies, tech companies, and others can make huge generational changes within historically underserved communities that are languishing due to issues of access, affordability and a lack of digital utilization. Watch Robert F. Smith’s discussion with Bill Bynum at Opportunity Finance Network’s 2020 Small Business Finance Forum about bringing broadband to Black communities and businesses through The 2% Solution.
You can also read more about how the digital divide impacts people of color and what we can do to close the gaps, as well as more about The 2% Solution and its plan to improve corporate diversity through conscious inclusion, narrow the racial disparities in Black banking and help make education affordable for all students.