#Solutions2020 Policy Forum Hosted by FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn

On October 19, 2016 Commissioner Mignon Clyburn hosted a very informative conference about access to the internet, most importantly this forum was about finding solutions not excuses.

The day started with a lighting round about “Bridging the affordability Gap:” an incredible session about ensuring that internet access stays affordable to all communities, especially minorities, lower income, and those is rural areas.

Next we had the panel discussion “Ushering in the Next Chapter of Broadband and Health.” It was here that the panel highlighted the increasing importance of the internet in the Health care sector. Showing how crucial it is for the medical community to be able to access and share the most recent medical advances.

The third session was the lighting round: “Combating Inequality in the Communications Sector.” This session was a very solutions orientated session focusing on the need (and lack of) diversity in the communications sector. Providing ways more women and minorities (especially Native Americans) can have influence on the content and ownership of media outlets, particularly digital, radio, and televsion media outlets.

After a break, we continued with our fourth session a lighting round about “Digital Inclusion in the 21st Century.” The “inclusion” that this session focused on was how everyone needs to be included in the growth of our digital society. Solutions were delivered on how we can make sure access is provided to entrepreneurs, to women, to minorities on how they can create the latest technological advances in the digital space.

The fifth and final session discussed “Unlocking the 5G Revolution.” Here several solutions were given about the importance of 5G mobile access predominantly in rural areas. It emphasized that we need to have a strategy for the rural areas that was more than “just a watered down version” of the strategy for highly populated areas of the US.

Commissioner Clyburn more than surpassed her goal of creating a forum that provided “Solutions” for growth in the digital specter. Solutions to help close the “Digital Divide”; solutions for ensuring the future of the digital space will help everyone, not just the chosen few. Solutions for several causes that Mobile Like Me is looking to make a major impact around the country. As the Executive Director of Mobile Like Me I was fortunate to attend this event and most importantly I was able to present Commissioner Clyburn a small token to say “Thank you for helping on the issues that we find so important to helping grow our digital society.

Mobile Broadband Adoption Exploding Globally

More than 226 million people in Africa have smartphone connections, and more than half a billion are mobile cell phone subscribers, a figure that’s expected to grow to 725 million by 2020. At the same time, 92% of China’s mainland population is expected to have mobile broadband at 4G speeds by 2018. With figures like these, it would be an understatement to say that mobile broadband adoption around the world is on the rise. But the recent trends in cell phone and smartphone ownership are just the tip of the iceberg.

As mobile and smart devices become cheaper, and more people get to experience the array of life-enhancing applications the Internet enables, mobile growth will only continue to skyrocket. A recent report by the Pew Research Center finds that smartphone ownership is surging in emerging economies, but that advanced economies still have higher rates of technology use. Here in the U.S., people use cell phones and smartphones at a rate higher than almost anywhere in the world, surpassed only by Australia, with Canada and the U.K. as close seconds.

While the digital divide remains a real stumbling block for people on the wrong side of the technology access equation, mobile adoption is helping to reduce digital disparities. By providing portable, affordable Internet access, especially for members of rural or low-income communities, mobile accessibility enables access to beneficial, and at times, life saving platforms and technologies. Even where home broadband adoption has plateaued, mobile broadband use over a smartphone or cell phone is allowing people to get and stay connected to the technologies we’ve become some dependent on for daily interactions.

Considering the profound importance of Internet access these days, maintaining affordable options of mobile connectivity is key to reducing the digital divide. Increased mobility is also essential for ensuring that people around the world can access the opportunities made possible by the Internet.