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FCC Chairman Announces Jobs-Focused Digital Literacy Partnership Between Connect2Compete and the 2,800 American Job Centers

July 23rd, 2012 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

by: Jordan Usdan and Kevin Almasy, Public-Private Initiatives

July 23rd, 2012

We know today’s job market is more competitive than ever, but trying to find a job without knowing how to use the Internet is becoming nearly impossible.  Over 80% of Fortune 500 companies, from Target to Wal-Mart, require online job applications.  In the next decade, it is estimated that nearly 80% of jobs will require digital skills. From call center workers, to retail employees, to receptionists, to even manufacturers and construction workers, the jobs of today and tomorrow require digital skills. 

The fact that 66 million Americans are without basic digital literacy skills, the skillset needed to use a computer and the Internet, is troubling both for job seekers and employers alike. In fact, 52% of American employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions, up from 14% in 2010, due to the nationwide skills gap.

As the costs of digital exclusion rises, what’s at stake is not only the competitiveness of the American workforce, but also the vitality of our country in the 21st century.  The good news is the private sector, government, and philanthropy are working together, through the Connect2Compete (C2C) coalition, to help close the digital divide and the skills gap.

Last week, Chairman Genachowski and Secretary of Labor Solis announced a nationwide digital literacy partnership between the 2,800 American Job Centers and C2C, extending the digital literacy training coalition to thousands of communities across the country. 

The announcement is part of C2C’s effort to help narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access, computers, educational and jobs content, and digital literacy training more accessible for millions of Americans without home connectivity. C2C, a public-private partnership, is comprised of more than 40 non-profit and private sector partners, such as Best Buy, Discovery, LULAC, the National Urban League, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The Job Centers will join C2C’s existing digital literacy coalition of libraries, non-profits, and community centers as a computing and digital literacy provider. In addition, all participating American Job Centers will promote C2C’s broadband adoption offerings, which include discounted Internet service and refurbished laptop computers. 

C2C also announced that it will launch a database to help Americans find their nearest digital literacy training center, including American Job Centers, non-profit providers, and public libraries. A website and toll-free number will direct users to thousands of free training providers. The initiative will be promoted by a nationwide Ad Council campaign on digital literacy, beginning in early 2013.

Low-Cost Broadband and Computers for Students and Families

November 10th, 2011 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

By Josh Gottheimer and Jordan Usdan, Chairman's Office

Yesterday, at a public school in Washington, DC, joined by cable and technology executives and nonprofit leaders, FCC Chairman Genachowski announced an unprecedented effort to help close the digital divide, bringing low-cost broadband and computers to many low-income Americans.

Right now nearly one-third of the country – 100 million Americans – doesn’t have high-speed Internet at home.  Compare that to Singapore and Korea, where broadband adoption rates top 90 percent.  Minorities and low-income Americans are the hardest hit by this divide.  Research shows that cost, relevance, and digital literacy are the primary reasons many people aren’t connecting. Whether we're talking about jobs, education, or health care, in this day and age, getting online is a necessity, not a convenience.

The “Connect to Compete” effort will offer eligible families in the National School Lunch Program discounted $9.95/ month broadband Internet, $150 laptop or desktop refurbished computers, and free digital literacy training.  This represents a $4 billion in-kind offering for tens of millions of Americans. And it won’t spend any taxpayer dollars.

Yesterday, President Obama said: “This important partnership between my Administration and American businesses represents a major step towards closing the digital divide -- connecting more families to the 21st century economy, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities, and helping America win the future.”

You can learn more about the announcement here: USA Today, CBS News, Reuters.

Closing the digital divide isn’t just an economic issue, it’s one of the great civil rights challenges of our time. Broadband can be the great equalizer – giving every American with an Internet connection access to a world of new opportunities that might otherwise be beyond their reach. A Federal Reserve study found that students with a PC and broadband at home have six to eight percentage point higher graduation rates than similar student who don’t have home access to the Internet.

Today’s announcement includes a few critical components:

1.      New Low-Cost $9.95 Internet Broadband Internet

  • The cable industry, under the leadership of NCTA President Michael Powell, will offer all non-adopting families with a child eligible for the free National School Lunch Program basic broadband service for two years at $9.95 + tax per month, with no installation/activation or modem rental fees. This represents a discount of approximately 70% and will be available in all 50 states.

2.      New Low-Cost Family PCs

  • Redemtech, a technology refurbishment company, has committed to offer a refurbished $150 + tax powerful laptop, or desktop with LCD monitor,plus Microsoft Office, Windows 7, warranty, tech support, and free shipping to all eligible families.
  • Microsoft, starting early next year, will work with its hardware partners to introduce a series of affordable, high-quality education computers, starting at $250, that include Windows and Office software.
  • Morgan Stanley has committed to develop a microcredit program to help families afford the upfront cost of a computer.

3.      Digital Literacy

  • Best Buy, Microsoft, America’s Public Libraries and the FCC are collaborating to make sure free basic digital literacy training can be available in America’s communities.  In addition, Microsoft is developing a portal to provide free online digital literacy training.

4.      Grassroots Effort

  • An unprecedented coalition of nonprofit and grassroots organization have committed to help spread the word about Connect to Compete. These include: America’s Promise Alliance; Digital Promise; Opportunity Nation; United Way Worldwide; Boys and Girls Club; Connected Nation; Goodwill; CFY; 4H; members of the Broadband Opportunity Coalition: The Asian American Justice Center, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National Urban League, One Economy, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); the Minority and Media Telecommunications Council (MMTC) and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

5.      Leadership and Implementation

  • The Connect to Compete offerings will be rolled out in select cities starting in spring 2012 and will begin to rollout nationwide in the fall.
  • Kelley Dunne will lead Connect to Compete, a new nonprofit initiative, building on his role as CEO of One Economy, one of the most effective organizations in the digital literacy space.

For more information go to

Interested in learning more? Watch a video of the event, read the Chairman's remarks, see the fact sheet

FCC and Connect To Compete Tackle Broadband Adoption Challenge

October 13th, 2011 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

By Josh Gottheimer and Jordan Usdan, Chairman's Office

Connect to Compete

Yesterday, joined by executives and nonprofit leaders, Chairman Genachowski announced a first-of-its kind national effort to address broadband adoption, digital literacy, and the employment skills gap.  If you have a moment, there are two articles worth reading from USA Today and the New York Times.

Right now, nearly one-third of the country – 100 million Americans – don’t have high-speed Internet at home. That’s compared to Singapore and Korea where the adoption rates top 90 percent. 

Some facts:

  • More than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies today, including Wal-Mart and Target, require online job applications.
  •  Students with broadband at home have a 6-8 percent higher graduation rate as compared to similarly situated students without broadband at home
  • Fifty percent of today’s jobs require some technology skills – and this percentage is expected to grow to 77 percent in the next decade.

But the broadband adoption gap is also tremendous opportunity; imagine what having millions of more Americans digitally empowered can mean for the economy: millions more customers for online businesses, more Americans using cost saving e-government services, and more Americans with the digital skills needed to find and land the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Because broadband adoption is key to America’s competitiveness – to jobs, to e-government, to education – we must knock down the barriers to adoption: a) digital literacy, including a lack of trust, or concerns about privacy and safety online; b) cost of the device and connectivity; and c) relevance, the value consumers perceive from broadband.

While there is no silver bullet to close the adoption gap, yesterday’s announcements mark an important first step, particularly for two of those obstacles – digital literacy and consumer relevance.

Actions announced today include:

  1. The Chairman called for a Digital Literacy Corps to enable thousands more public libraries to hold in-person, basic digital literacy classes and allow schools to do the same after school hours (teaching Americans how to search, use e-mail, utilize parental controls, upload a resume, etc.). Last year, more than 30 million Americans used library connections to seek and apply for jobs, and 12 million children used them to do homework. The Digital Literacy Corps would help Americans, young or old, English or Spanish-speaking, get the skills they need to find and apply for a job, to access educational classes, find health care information, and utilize e-government resources.
  2. The Chairman also announced a series of offerings from private companies and non-profit, grass-roots organizations to expand digital literacy in communities and provide rich jobs and educational content.  The committed companies include: Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Microsoft, Arise Virtual Solutions,,, MetrixLearning, BrainFuse, Sesame, and Discovery Education. The grassroots organizations include: the Boys and Girls Club, Goodwill, 4H, and members of the Broadband Opportunity Coalition -- the Asian American Justice Center, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National Urban League, One Economy, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Minority and Media Telecommunications Council (MMTC). 
  3. The Chairman also announced the creation of “Connect to Compete” – a new non-profit initiative to help execute the commitments, host the jobs and educational content, develop a database with digital literacy classes, and help train digital literacy instructors across the country.  For more details on “Connect to Compete” and its private sector and nonprofit partners, visit

Interested in learning more?

(Cross-posted on the Official FCC Blog)

Broadband Tools for Advanced Surfers

October 19th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

The demand for the beta version of the FCC fixed and mobile broadband tests have exceeded expectations with over 1.5 million tests taken since March.  While we ready the next versions, we wanted to inform users of other network testing tools available on the Internet.

These tools, which aren’t managed or approved by the FCC, allow users to do such things as test Internet Protocol Version 6 connectivity, determine whether traffic from certain applications is being throttled, and run an advanced overall network health diagnostic test.  And users can do all of this while contributing valuable and anonymous data to the academic research community.  Here are some advanced tools you might find useful and interesting:

IPv6 tests (accessible here and here)
These Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) tests allow you to determine whether your network connection is IPv6 capable.  Internet Protocol (IP) is the packet-switching and routing system for the Internet.  The current IP version (IPv4) was created in 1981 and is limited to around 4 billion unique addresses, most of which have already been assigned.  IPv6 allows for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion unique IP addresses, which should last for a good while.  IPv6 also allows for better security and support for advanced applications.  The White House has released a memo to government agencies about the deployment and use of IPv6, which you can read here; for more information about IPv6 and what you need to know, see IPv6 Act Now.

Glasnost application throttling tool
The Glasnost test is managed by the Max Planck Institute and enables users to check whether traffic from an application is being rate-limited (i.e., throttled) or blocked.  Glasnost works by testing and comparing users’ connection speed for different application flows to determine if a network provider is limiting the traffic for a particular type of traffic.  The tests can also detect whether application flows are shaped based on their port numbers or their packets’ payload.  For those short on patience, be aware that this advanced tool takes approximately 8 minutes to test a connection.

Netalyzr is a National Science Foundation funded project that tests a wide range of network characteristics, such as TCP and UDP connectivity, buffer measurements, and DNS policy.  Netalyzr is designed for users with sophisticated knowledge of network technology and runs an advanced test on your Internet connection with an attendant detailed report.  The New Scientist magazine has published a guide to help users understand their Netalyzr results.

We encourage users of the FCC Consumer Broadband Tests to also consider these advanced tools.  As a reminder, the FCC does not manage or control any of these tools.

What do you think of the advanced tools blogged about above?  What other tools do you find useful around the Internet?  We’re always interested in hearing from readers so let us know what you think.

Mobile Broadband Performance and Transparency

October 12th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

 On Friday the FCC released a Request for Information (RFI) aimed at potential providers of mobile broadband performance measurement and mapping services.  The submission period is open through November 5, 2010.

This RFI release is a major step forward in implementing the National Broadband Plan’s recommendation to make available better data on the performance of mobile broadband networks.  We believe this effort will help inform consumers about mobile network performance, encourage competition based upon service quality, and provide useful data for policymaking and broadband mapping.  You can read the RFI here.
Similar to the FCC’s fixed broadband measurement effort (see, the FCC is seeking a solution to measure the performance of mobile network providers.  Typical sources of mobile broadband performance include drive testing, fixed network probes, application level data, network provider data, and data collected from end-user devices.   Measurements and attendant data will likely focus on key performance metrics such as data throughput rates, reliability, latency, and signal quality. 
The FCC will continue to engage industry and other parties in discussions to determine the best methods for gathering accurate and useable data on mobile broadband performance, including the publication of performance data from other sources.  Previously, the FCC released a Public Notice covering this topic, available here.
The FCC intends to leverage any data collected to develop publicly available tools for consumers, network designers, and policymakers.  Any data collected from the public will be subject to robust privacy protections.
We continue to seek input from all interested parties on consumer transparency and related mapping initiatives.  Transparency and consumer information are critical inputs to encouraging competition and advancing innovation in our broadband ecosystem.

E-rate Reforms and Back to School Event (with Webcast)

September 20th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

Tomorrow at 12:00PM (9:00AM PT), FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will appear at a public forum in Silicon Valley to discuss E-rate modernization and innovation in education.  The Chairman will also announce the launch of the FCC’s Parents’ Place page.  The public forum is hosted by Common Sense Media, and is about creating digital opportunity for families through innovation in education and by empowering both parents and kids online.

The forum is open to the public and can also be watched live via webcast.  You can also send questions to ask the Chairman and co-panelists via email ( or through Twitter using the hashtag #kidstech.

TITLE:           Back to School: Learning and Growing in a Digital Age

HOSTS:          Hosted by Common Sense Media; co-hosted by PBS, The Children’s Partnership, and the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership & Policy

WHAT:           A public forum for leaders from Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., to discuss the best strategies for bringing technology innovations to our schools -- and other learning settings -- and bringing the benefits of the digital revolution to parents and kids while addressing online risks.

WHEN:           Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010

8:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m (Pacific Time)

WHERE:        Computer History Museum

1401 N. Shoreline Blvd.

Mountain View, CA

AGENDA:      8:15 – 9 a.m.  (Pacific Time)

Interactive Technology Showcase and continental breakfast

9 – 9:20 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Introductory Remarks by James P. Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense Media

Opening Remarks by Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC

9:20 – 10:30 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Panel 1: Innovation in Education

Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Karen Cator, Director of Education Technology, U.S. Dept of Education
Shawn Covell, Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm
Patrick Gaston, President, Verizon Foundation

Murugan Pal, Co-Founder & President, CK-12 Foundation

Moderator: Geoffrey Cowan, Dean Emeritus, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

10:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

Panel 2: Empowering Parents and Kids with Technology

Sara DeWitt, Vice President, PBS KIDS Interactive,
Mandeep Dhillon, CEO and Co-founder, Togetherville
Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer, Facebook

Catherine Teitelbaum, Director of Child Safety and Product Policy, Yahoo!
Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec

Moderator: Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President, The Children’s Partnership

Empowering Small Businesses with Broadband

September 15th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

This morning I attended a forum on empowering small businesses with broadband hosted by John Donahoe, eBay CEO, and featuring remarks by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  The event highlighted “eBay top sellers” who are owners of small businesses on eBay from around the country that all rely on broadband as a critical technology to run their business.

We at the FCC are aware of the statistics proving the importance of entrepreneurs, empowered by broadband, to our economy.  Together they create jobs and wealth and drive the country forward through innovation and ingenuity.  And we know that supporting these businesses with cutting edge connectivity is not just a good idea, but a vital national purpose.

However, no statistic or policy paper on small businesses could illustrate broadband’s power to spur job creation better than the remarkable stories I heard today from eBay sellers.  These entrepreneurs are creating jobs, boosting exports, and greening the economy through the use of broadband.  Here are just a few of their stories:

·         Using broadband and eBay, a Cleveland area seller of gaming equipment has added 37 jobs in the past year alone and recently expanded into a 200K Sq Ft closed auto plant.

·         A South Dakota seller of recycled electronics hired 30% more workers in the past year and says broadband is the only way he can run his businesses from a rural area.

·         A seller of recycled laptops, a green small business in Nevada, has 50 employees, adding 25 within the past year.

·         An auto parts seller from Massachusetts started his businesses from his garage in 1999 and now uses broadband for over 1,000 sales a day and has hired 40% more workers this year alone.

·         A Michigan seller of recycled cell phones has hired 20 people in the past 18 months and prides himself on running a green business.

·         A Massachusetts golf ball and sports equipment recycler with 75 employees, including 25 added in the past year, uses broadband to reach its customers and green the economy.

These incredible stories are just a few examples of how broadband and the Internet enable anyone with an idea to start a business from their garage and reach global markets.  Rebuilding our economy with the best broadband infrastructure and the right policies in place will allow American creativity and ingenuity to lead our country to a revitalized economy.

Educate to Innovate

September 13th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign aims to improve the performance of America’s students in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The FCC, building on the President’s call to action, has proposed a series of recommendations in the National Broadband Plan that recognize broadband as an important tool to help educators, parents and students meet major challenges in education, including those in the STEM fields.  The Broadband Plan recognizes that investment in broadband and STEM education will help us lead the world in 21st century educational innovation.

Discovery Communications, as part of the “Educate to Innovate” initiative, has launched a new, commercial-free science education programming block that is airing Monday-Friday (4:00 to 5:00 PM ET/PT) and Saturdays (7:00-9:00 AM ET/PT) on Science Channel.  In place of commercial advertising, Science Channel is running PSAs highlighting notable “cool jobs” in the STEM fields.

Today, the PSA featuring Chairman Julius Genachowski, promoting broadband and STEM education, will premier during the Science Channel’s education block.  View the PSA here:

To further promote the importance of educational innovation, Chairman Genachowski will be the featured speaker and panelist at Back to School Learning and Growing in the Digital Age, a public forum for policymakers and technology industry leaders sponsored by Common Sense Media, PBS, The Children’s Partnership and The Annenberg School of Communication at USC.  The event will also feature an interactive technology showcase of innovative digital learning and parental empowerment tools.  The event is open to the public.

Event details:

Back to School Learning and Growing in the Digital Age 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Computer History Museum
1401 N. Shoreline Boulevard

Mountain View, CA  94043 

8:15 - 9:00 a.m.
Continental breakfast and Tech Showcase
 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Panels and Discussion

Tech Showcase continues until 1:00 pm.

Other confirmed participants include:

·         Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education
·         James P. Steyer, CEO, Common Sense Media
·         Scott McNealy, Founder,, Co-founder, Sun Microsystems
·         Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer, Facebook
·         Catherine Teitelbaum, Director of Child Safety, Communities and Content Policies, Yahoo!
·         Geoffrey Cowan, Dean Emeritus, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
·         Mandeep Dhillon, Co-founder and CEO, Togetherville
To RSVP, Click Here
For more information, contact
For exhibitor information, contact

FCC Consumer Broadband Tests Surpass 1 Million Results and Still Counting

July 16th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

Last week the FCC’s Consumer Broadband Tests recorded its one millionth test, providing users and the FCC with real-time data on the performance of fixed and mobile broadband networks.  You can take the fixed test or download the mobile test application in the Android or iPhone “App” stores by searching for “FCC”. 

We are pleased with the popularity of these tools and we look forward to updating them in the coming months to add more features, provide richer feedback to users and make more data available to the public.  Additionally, we encourage you to sign up to put your broadband to the test at, where you can volunteer to help the FCC gather and report statistical data on the performance of broadband providers across the United States via a hardware testing platform in your home.  As a reminder, the engines supporting the FCC Consumer Broadband Tests independently make some of their data available: click here to learn more about M-Lab and Ookla.

A Billion Broadband Speed Test Records Made Public

May 26th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

Over a billion broadband speed test records from across the world have been made publicly available this week by two of the largest broadband measurement platforms: Measurement Lab (M-Lab) and Ookla, Inc. (of

M-Lab released their entire data set via Google's BigQuery, which allows academics, researchers and others to access and run queries against the entire 60TB dataset.  Read more about it here.  M-Lab had previously made their dataset available via another service, but the BigQuery partnership enables real-time analysis without having to download the entire 60TB dataset.

Ookla also announced they will make their data set of over 1.5 billion speed test records available over the internet, and launched a website that ranks countries and regions based upon broadband speed using this data.

The FCC’s Fixed and Mobile Consumer Broadband Tests allow users to test their internet connection and add their anonymous speed tests results to the M-Lab and Ookla databases.

We applaud these efforts as making more broadband data available serves the public interest.  As Ookla states on their website: “This valuable information can be used to shape broadband policy, help carriers and ISPs make informed business decisions, and even allow individuals to compare and contrast their results with those near them or others around the world.”

Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones