Washington Report: Updates from Capitol Hill

Democrats ready for midterm elections; broadband assistance for small businesses

Greater Broadband Access for Small Businesses Sought

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs that depend on broadband and information and communication technologies will grow by 25% between 2008 and 2018. In addition, broadband connectivity can be powerful tools to help small businesses reach new markets, increase productivity and efficiency, and generate economic growth, said Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski in testimony before a Senate small business panel on efforts to expand small business Internet access.

According to FCC reports, businesses with 25 or fewer employees pay two times more per employee for broadband than those with more than 25 employees. The agency’s National Broadband Plan encourages broadcasters to give up unused spectrum so it can be used to expand broadband services to small businesses around the nation.

Genachowski said that the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities is working with various business chambers to improve digital literacy among minority and women-owned businesses as part of its efforts to support and encourage diversity in the telecommunications industry.

Those efforts also include workshops and roundtable discussions on broadband’s impact on small and diverse businesses, capitalization challenges, and a networking program to connect those firms with larger telecommunications firms.

“Expanding broadband access and adoption is not just the FCC’s job; we all have a role to play,” said Senator Mary Landrieu, who chairs the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. “We have some challenges ahead, and it’s important that we understand how to best work together to implement our National Broadband Plan to benefit small businesses, particularly in rural, underserved and unserved areas of the nation.”

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