Workshop: Diversity and Civil Rights Issues in Broadband Deployment and Adoption

9:00 am – 11:00 am EDT
Washington, DC

In the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Congress has instructed the FCC to regularly report on whether advanced telecommunications services were being made available to all Americans in a timely fashion. Yet there remains considerable debate as to whether broadband services are being deployed in a way that allows all Americans to benefit. The diversity of our nation, our different cultures and religions and languages, is one our great strengths. This diversity also requires the government to take special care to ensure that the needs of all Americans are reasonably addressed. Structural poverty, continuing segregation, unequal opportunities in education, and discrimination in financial markets can all have a profound affect on access to broadband and adoption rates. These challenges affect some groups more than others. How do we create a national broadband plan that recognizes the different needs of a diverse America, but also adheres to the core American principle of equal treatment under the law?



The following are some of the preliminary topics that will be covered at this workshop. If you would like to discuss any other topics, please send us your suggestions.
  • A decade ago, the notion of the digital divide had resonance at a time when less than half of all Americans used the internet, mostly using dial-up internet connections from desktop computers. Today, there are smaller holes in the fabric of access than a decade ago, in part because the nature of access has evolved from slow and stationary to fast and mobile. Yet differences in access persist. How does adoption of broadband vary across different social and demographic segments, such as race and ethnicity, educational attainment, income, and geography? Do different population segments use different access networks (wireline versus wireless) and devices differently? Are there different choices and costs for different groups of Americans? Are the consequences of being offline in today’s broadband-connected world different than a decade ago?
  • What is the best way to capture the facts about different groups of Americans? Do telephone surveys or census reports or community-based research do a better job of helping us understand the access, adoption and use of advanced telecommunications services in communities with varying cultures and languages?
  • Are the education, health care, energy and environmental benefits, public safety and e-government applications of different importance to different communities?
  • What is constitutionally permitted in creating a national broadband plan that would address the different needs of different gender, racial and ethnic groups?
  • Does the market now serve the needs of a diverse America? Are there FCC or legislative policies that can create incentives for markets to better serve the needs of a diverse America?
  • Is there an appropriate direct role for local, state and federal government to connect all American to advanced telecommunications infrastructure? Is the universal service fund working to close disparities in access and adoption?


9:00 am Opening Remarks, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell 
9:05 am Workshop/Panel Introduction, Mark Lloyd, Moderator 
9:10 am Panelist Presentations: What are the gaps in broadband access and adoption? And what is the best way to measure those gaps?
  • Mark Pruner, President and co-founder of the Native American Broadband Association 
  • Catherine Sandoval, Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law
  • Jorge Reina Schement, Dean of the School of Communication & Information and Professor II in the Bloustein School of Public Policy, and in the Department of Latino-Hispanic Caribbean Studies, Rutgers University 
  • Jim Tobias, President, Inclusive Technologies
9:45 am Panelist Discussion and Responses to Questions
10:55 am Closing Statement, Moderator
11:00 am Break
11:10 am Panel Introduction, Mark Lloyd, Moderator
11:15 am Panelist Presentations: What does the law compel or limit regarding government action to close gaps in broadband access and adoption?
  • Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal, Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
  • Geoffrey Blackwell, Director, Strategic Relations and Minority Business Development, Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc.
  • Mara Einstein, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Queens College and adjunct Associate Professor, Stern School of Business, New York University
  • Allen S. Hammond IV, the Phil and Bobbie Sanfilippo Law Professor, Director of the Broadband Institute of California, Santa Clara University 
  • Thomas J. Henderson, is a Principal of the Henderson Law Firm in Washington, D.C.
  • David Honig, Executive Director, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council 
Noon Panelist Discussion and Responses to Questions
12:55 pm Closing Statement, Moderator
1:00 pm Break
2:00 pm Panel Introduction, Mark Lloyd, Moderator
2:05 pm Panelist Presentations: What works now to close the gap in broadband access and adoption?
  • Patricia Bransford, President, The National Urban Technology Center 
  • Antoinette Cook Bush, Partner in charge of the Communications Group, Skadden Arps 
  • Laura L. Efurd, Vice President and Chief Community Investment Officer, ZeroDivide
  • Jonathan Glass, is a Principal of Council Tree Investors 
  • Heather Dawn Thompson, is a Partner at the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP 
3:00 pm Panelist Discussion and Responses to Questions
3:55 pm Closing Statement, Moderator
4:00 pm Adjourn

Related Documents

  • Broadband Diversity; Access Gaps, Complements and Substitutes
    • Catherine J.K. Sandoval, Assistant Professor , Santa Clara University School of Law
  • Faces of America: Challenges to Measuring the Demographics of an Information Age Population
    • Jorge Reina Schement, Dean, School of Communication & Information, Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Hispanic Caribbean Studies
  • Accessible Broadband for People with Disabilities
    • Jim Tobias, President, Inclusive Technologies
  • Permissible Government Action to Close the Broadband Divide
    • Prof. Allen S. Hammond, IV, Director, BBIC, Santa Clara Univ. School of Law
  • Closing the Gap: A National Mandate
    • Patricia Bransford, President, The National Urban Technology Center
  • Best Practices in Broadband Adoption
    • Laura L. Efurd, Vice President and Chief Community Investment Officer, ZeroDivide
  • State of Broadband Adoption
    • John Horrigan, Consumer Research Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative, FCC
  • Workshop Transcript