Federal Communications Commission

Broadband Opportunities for Disadvantaged Businesses

August 21st, 2009 by Thomas Reed - Director, Office of Communications Business Opportunities.

On August 18, the FCC conducted its Broadband Workshop on "Opportunities for Disadvantaged Businesses, which examined whether small and disadvantaged businesses are ready to take advantage of new and existing broadband technologies.


The Commission and its web viewers were fortunate to have an array of talent and knowledge displayed throughout the afternoon.  The first panel consisted of representatives from various Chambers of Commerce, from the SBA, and from business leaders familiar with the broadband needs of rural communities.  These panelists discussed what is currently known about broadband technology in their constituent communities, and how they can assist small and disadvantaged businesses in their effort to increase broadband adoption.  The small and disadvantaged business community requires services developed with a focus on local communities.  Although broadband technology represents an additional cost for small businesses, without these technologies, their businesses may be unsustainable in the modern marketplace.  Hopefully, we can avoid this Catch 22.


The second panel consisted of small business leaders who are in the technology solutions business.  These panelists discussed the various ways they help businesses grow by using broadband technology.  They stressed the need for digital literacy and how we must make broadband relevant in the daily lives of people in unserved and underserved communities and not just for entertainment purposes.


The third and final panel consisted of entrepreneurs who currently own and operate small businesses that use broadband technology to remain competitive in their industries.  They represent the proof that broadband technology is working well for those with good ideas that need to be brought to the marketplace; that broadband technology is essential for enabling new businesses to flourish without a brick and mortar presence; and that it can be inexpensive and easy to create businesses on the Internet.


As the February 2010 deadline approaches for sending the National Broadband Plan to Congress, it is critical that we identify the ways in which broadband access and availability impact small and disadvantaged businesses.  We are looking forward to continuing our conversation with stakeholders in the small and disadvantaged business community.

4 Responses to “Broadband Opportunities for Disadvantaged Businesses”

  1. Rural Concerned Resident says:

    I read about Disadvantaged Business and about Disadvantaged CHILDREN and FAMILIES. Buesiness have the option to purchase T1 lines for broadband like speed, although a bit more costly it is an option. How about homeowners and their families that happen to live in a bit more rural of an area than INNER CITY and are not given an opportunity for broadband at all. Anyone with technological savvy knows that Satellite provided internet is one of the worse options known to mankind, the technology is severly lacking, speeds are often worse than dial up, the costs are expensive, the customer service is second to ALL others, and they sign you up for a 2 year contract to a product that does not deliver as advertised.

    Children and people in general need the internet more and more to learn and conduct daily life. Many MANY normal activities are turning to the internet for it's only option. Entry level learning, adult classes, bill payments, document searches, ticket purchases, so on and on and on...more and more many of today's business and non-business activities are ASSUMING that everyone has broadband capabilities and are giving people little to no options for any other form of contact even though only a very SMALL portion of our Contry are serviced by high speed internet services.

    Companies out there who have exclusive market areas are refusing to offer their services to all of their customers. They pick and chose where they offer service and refuse to assist other customers with the same options that they offer others. In many cases here a Charlotte NC suburb, far from very rural america cable, cable internet and DSL may be offered on one street but not on another. Actually it is offered to my neighbor not not my family who is 600ft away from their property. Our cable company will not service the rest of the block while ATT telephone service refuse to offer DSL services even though they do along other streets in the area. We are a somewhat rural area, cellular service is very poor in the area so cellular internet is slow at best and we get back to Hughes Net or Wild Blue slower than Dialup and difficult to get in the dense woods.

    What is needed to make our communications providers offer the same service to all customers instead of pick and chose. Was it not in the cellular industry that it was required for providers to provide service in the entire service area if they were to hold a license and blocking any other company to come in and offer services to other people? Why is the same not done for cable and telephone companies?

    Teachers tell my children to go here and there on the internet to learn more or do projects, employers always offer on-line continuing education and higher level degrees but it would take years if ever to complete at dial up speeds. Banks more and more tell you to go on-line to get your latest statement instead of mailing it...don't we all deserve EQUALITY? Why does someone's neighbor deserve a service and someone else not? I can easly see a bias developing not on race, sex, or religion but actually on access to information. Do we not deserve the same education as others ? Do we not deserve the same services from businesses that other customers get ? What does it take to make a communications provider (phone or cable) to offer equality to the residents in the area they are licensed/allowed to service! ?

    Sincerly, Richard Garcia York South Carolina

  2. jasonspalace says:

    and what about funding more powerline in the northwestern states, light the map up with a blanket of internet.

  3. Guest says:

    First of all buy a dictionary...or proof read your writing. Any points you may make, are undone by all of your spelling errors.

    Second of all, we haven't lived in an equal society for decades. No, I do not believe the government cares about rural areas. There isn't enough of a "need" to warrant the cost. What this really means to me is that there aren't enough voters that carry enough weight in rural areas.

    I also live in a rural area and can't even get a hard phone line brought in and the line ends less than two miles from my neighborhood. In addition, cellular coverage in my area is terrible. It is a rare occassion when I can make a phone call much less access the internet for any length of time. Forget access to even 911 at that point. If there is an emergency at my home or on my ranch, it is likely I will have to get in my truck and drive a mile or so to get help via my cell phone.

    However, it is my choice to live where I live and do what I do. We all make choices in life...just don't expect the government to care about equality on this issue.

    We don't have equality with healthcare or any other social need we have as a country. So, this issue is nothing new, nor will it be solved...EVER...

  4. Guest says:

    Where we can get information to instruct small business of the broadband industry to compete for contacting under this new initiative.

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