In a newly released video co-produced by New America’s Education Policy Program, Open Technology Institute, and Asset Building Program, my colleagues and I argue that affordable and universal broadband access is an important tool for promoting equal access to economic, educational and occupational opportunities for all. Learn more about this body of work here.
When accompanied by appropriate digital inclusion policies and adequate consumer protections, broadband access can serve as a tool to help families and individuals build their wealth, access savings opportunities, and improve their economic prospects.
Access to the internet gives individuals, families, and communities a vehicle with which to engage an array of resources and services: the full spectrum of the education system, the job market and a wide variety of workplaces, financial service providers, and a range of other governmental and non-governmental services and structures that improve daily life. In this way, the internet can function as a tool to promote upward social and economic mobility. In the asset building context, an affordable high-speed home broadband connection can lay the foundation for successful engagement with safe and affordable financial products outside of a bank. Internet access (and competency with internet-based tools) is a de facto prerequisite for un- or underemployed adults to seek out and apply for living wage job opportunities. Children and youth can use the internet to build foundational skills that lead to better educational outcomes in the short and long-term.
However, we have a long way to go to reach this vision for universal connectivity – and a number of caveats to address along the way.