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Commissioner McDowell on Educational Benefits of Broadband Use

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Released: October 11, 2012











OCTOBER 11, 2012

Thank you, Kyle, for that kind introduction.
Thank you also to Mayor Jones, Councilwoman Newbille, and State Delegate McClellan
for your remarks.
And a special thank you to Principal Burke, for your hospitality at your fine school. It’s
invigorating to see so many bright young faces in the audience. You must be very proud of your
students. I look forward to seeing more of your school later today.
As a father of three young children, I have a personal interest in America’s youth –
especially regarding the use of technology. To put in perspective how fast technology has
changed and equally how adept America’s youth are with technology, I think of my youngest
son, Cormac. He is five; or to put it another way, he was born in the same year as the first i-
Phone. Literally, before he could walk, he knew how to use it better than I could.
Here’s another amazing example of how far technology has come. In 1965, one of our
country’s finest universities, MIT, had built its own computer. That was a big deal for a

university back then, and that computer cost $11 million in today’s dollars.1 Today, on the other
hand, the microprocessor in a mobile device like a smartphone is more than one million times
smaller, one million times less expensive and a thousand times more powerful.2 That equates to
more than a billion-fold increase in the amount of computing power a person can buy per dollar.3
What does this all mean for each of us in our daily lives? That today any one of us has the
opportunity to possess more computing power in the palm of our hands than all of the computing
power that put people on the moon over 40 years ago through the Apollo program.4
In short, these exponential increases in capacity and decreases in costs have resulted in
more information being shared with more people than at any other time in world history.
If we want these positive trends to continue, we must allow a competitive private sector
to have the freedom to invest and innovate to meet consumer demand. That’s one reason I am
delighted to be here today to help launch Comcast’s Internet Essentials broadband adoption
program in the beautiful capital of our Commonwealth, Richmond.
I agree with our hosts today that one key component to ensuring academic and career
success for Americans is improving the broadband adoption rate in our country. Simply put,
increased broadband adoption will help grow America’s economy and increase our global

1 See Ray Kurzweil, Making the World a Billion Times Better, WASH. POST, Apr. 13, 2008, at B4.
2 Id.
3 Id.
4 Michio Kaku, Physics of the Future 21 (2011).

While over two-third’s of Americans currently subscribe to a broadband service, recent
studies have also shown that America is moving in the right direction when it comes to finding
ways to encourage broadband adoption.
For example, the National Urban League released a study several months ago that found
that the overall broadband adoption difference between African Americans and other Americans
narrowed significantly between 2009 and 2010 - closing the difference by eight percentage
points.5 Of course, more can be done and is being done through efforts like Comcast’s “Internet
One of the obstacles to broadband adoption is “relevancy” – a topic of today’s event.
Why is broadband important to you? What do you like about the Internet? The use of
broadband Internet access can help enhance a student’s education early on. It allows students to
connect with other classrooms in our country and around the world. It provides a vantage point
to take virtual field trips to fascinating places and learn about how people in various parts of the
world live. Students can learn from their differences and their similarities, and they can have fun
while learning.
And if you’re having fun while learning, you’re going to learn more. And if you learn
more, you’ll do better in school. And if you do better in school and stay in school, you’re more
likely to get a more interesting and higher-paying job. And this virtuous cycle will help us leave
behind a better America for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for having me here today, and congratulations to Richmond and Comcast’s
Internet Essentials program on the launch of this positive and constructive program.

5 National Urban League Policy Institute, Connecting the Dots: Linking Broadband Adoption to Job Creation and
Job Competitiveness
7, available at

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