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Technologia del Mundo

Those Latino households without the fast Internet access that broadband connectivity brings are denied full participation in the digital com- munication revolution, whether for searching online for jobs and housing opportunities, engaging friends on social networking platforms or shop- ping for goods and services, accord- ing to Flores and others.

“Americans who lack broadband In- ternet access are cut off from many educational and employment oppor- tunities,” said Lawrence E. Strick- ling, assistant secretary for commu- nications and information and administrator of the National Telecommuni- cations and Information Administration (NTIA), in a statement on the agency’s November 2010 report “Digital Nation II.”

A goal of the report, which analyzes U.S. broadband Internet access and adop- tion across all demographic groups, seeks to offer infor- mation that “will be useful to the larger community

IBM-inspired task force in the early 2000s that examined Latino digital divide issues, urged Congress and policymakers to ensure that Internet providers make broadband accessible at rates affordable to that population. “They have to provide affordable rates for communities that are not as well off,” Flores said.

The IBM Hispanic Digital Divide Task Force, issued a 2003 report, “Latinos and Information Technology: The Promise and the Challenge,” that outlined some of the same obstacles still evident today, such as a lower

percent had broadband.

The findings from the Pew Hispanic Center noted that the slow technol- ogy adoption for foreign-born Latinos is exacerbating the digital divide in the Latino demographic as a whole. For instance, 85 percent of native- born Hispanics and Latinos ages 16 and older go online, but only about 51 percent of their foreign-born counterparts do.

“The creation of wealth worldwide— as well as for individuals and families—is now inextricably linked to knowledge and technological innovation.”

Senior researcher Gretchen Livingston said the Pew Hispanic Center began collecting data in 2006 on the gap between technology adop- tion of native-born Hispan- ics and Latinos versus those who are foreign born.

—Antonio R. Flores

“Given the fact that the foreign born are less likely to speak English and tend to have lower incomes and lower educational levels, it is not a big surprise that they would have lower rates of technology use than their native-born counterparts,” Livingston said.

working to close the gap,” Strickling said.

The NTIA report noted that between 2001 and 2009, broadband Internet use rose dramatically from 9 percent to 64 percent of all U.S. households. However, some minority groups, along with many low-income and rural citizens, lag significantly behind other groups in broadband adoption. Latino households, for instance, had broadband adoption rates lower than 50 percent, according to NTIA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Depart- ment whose findings are based on a survey of 54,000 households by the U.S. Census.

Flores, who served as a member of an

home access rates to computers and the Internet for Latinos.

As it is for other groups, the acquisi- tion of technology by Latinos can help advance their social, political and economic agenda, the report said, noting, “The creation of wealth worldwide—as well as for individu- als and families—is now inextricably linked to knowledge and technologi- cal innovation.”

The NTIA report showed that house- holds across the board with less than $25,000 in annual income had a broadband adoption rate of less than 36 percent, while in households where the head of household did not receive a high school diploma 29

As always with technology, silver linings do appear on the landscape. One seen surfacing that is benefit- ing Latinos’ use of the Internet is the rapid adoption of smartphone usage. The Public Policy Institute of California reported in June 2011 that the use of smartphones to go online has increased in California across racial and ethnic groups over the past three years, including for Latinos.

Today, 32 percent of Latinos in California said in a survey that they accessed the Internet via their mobile phones compared with 16 percent in 2008, according to the institute.

HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | 2011


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