Just like electricity and telephone service before it, access to communications and technology in the 21st century has moved from being a luxury to a necessity. Advanced communications services are rapidly becoming key indicia of the difference between second-rate, low quality services and outcomes, and the highest quality tools to provide essential services to our society.
Access to, and the use of these services, are determined by our nation’s media, telecommunications, and technology policies—policies that must promote equality in a free, plural, and democratic society. When these policies fail, equal opportunity and democratic participation are compromised. What is at stake is nothing less than equality of economic and educational opportunity, and the right to meaningful democratic participation in the political process.
Technological progress should bring greater safety, economic opportunity and convenience to everyone. At the same time, as new technologies allow companies and government to gain greater insight into our lives, it is vitally important that these technologies be designed and used in ways that respect the values of equal opportunity and equal justice.
Although broadband is a means for people to have access to the tools they need in the 21st century, the rate of change in broadband adoption is slowing down and, in fact, posted a decline for the lowest income households in 2013. Cost is a significant factor contributing to low rates of adoption.