In celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, we are reminded of the progress made, and the struggles ahead for America’s fastest-growing community. This month, we celebrate the accomplishments of Latinos in politics, business, and every American sphere. Latinos have progressed, and continue to grow in buying power, educational attainment and number. The work of ensuring Latino participation in all aspects of American life must also include ensuring full digital inclusion – the advancement of digitally literate communities who are online and ready to leverage digital tools across their lives.
HTTP is proud to represent a coalition of national and regional Hispanic organizations working to increase awareness of the impact of technology and telecommunications policy on the U.S. Hispanic community. As a coalition, HTTP’s members support policies that promote universal access to, and adoption of technology, including broadband Internet. HTTP members support the policies, partnerships and public- and private-sector opportunities to ensure investment leading to expanded broadband access and innovation that makes the Internet more useful to this community.
We care about these policy and business matters for important reasons. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 51 percent of Hispanics access the Internet via a mobile device, while only 33 percent of whites do. The mobile platform has proven to be an accessible “on-ramp” to the Internet while many Latinos continue to lag in adoption of home broadband. Ensuring that Latinos are online, and using the Internet in their daily lives to access education, healthcare and other opportunities is a key to ensuring the future prosperity for the community. This adoption of mobile must be matched by overall digital literacy that comes with Hispanics adopting digital tools across platforms.
Latinos continue to lead in entrepreneurship — establishing a record number of new businesses. With broadband Internet, small businesses can reduce operating costs while increasing their competitive edge. Broadband access allows business owners, even home-based businesses, to take full advantage of the global digital economy by having real time access to market data, paying bills online, conducting market research through social media, and improving the efficiency of their business operations. It also allows businesses to connect to new markets a few towns or a continent away. These efficiencies can lead to growth and job creation.
The benefits of broadband are not just tied to business. A digital connection also produces significant benefits for individuals and families. For example, broadband access can reduce the cost of delivering high-quality healthcare, especially in rural areas where the closest hospital maybe more than 100 miles away. With broadband Internet, doctors can provide timely diagnoses through remote consultations, saving patients the time and expense of traveling to the doctor’s office (10 Benefits of Health IT). Emerging mobile health and distance healthcare technology offer a significant opportunity to address the health disparities facing the most vulnerable, rural and mobile Latino communities.
For Hispanics, broadband Internet access is no longer a luxury but a competitive necessity. Without reliable access, businesses and individuals will miss out on opportunities and information, putting them at a disadvantage in today’s digital economy. That is why the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership is proud to add its voice to the call for the deployment of broadband Internet throughout our country, and national attention to realizing universal digital literacy. It is, in fact, the quickly emerging American communities who will benefit most from the rapid deployment of technology in the digital age.
This article by Jason Lloenz, Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, originally appeared on the HTTP Web site.