The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council has shed light on a very important, yet little known fact as itrelates to broadband technology – Puerto Rico had virtually no broadband services. In a letter released yesterday to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the group highlighted the Commission’ s Sixth Broadband Deployment Report released July 20, 2010, stating that the Broadband Report had a “glaring hole in it.” The letter stated,
“While there is no mention of Puerto Rico in the text of the report, the broadband data appended to the report tells a shocking story: As broadband is defined by the FCC, there is virtually no broadband service whatsoever in Puerto Rico and four million Hispanic citizens of our country are currently and totally relegated to second class digital citizenship.”
Specifically, the Broadband Report data shows that:
- 3,954,000 of the 24,042,000 Americans that do not have access to broadband live in Puerto Rico – roughly one sixth of unserved Americans reside in Puerto Rico.
- The entire population of Puerto Rico lacks access to the advanced broadband services available to other Americans (4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up) – no areas on the island have such service available.
MMTC’s letter described the FCC’s broadband report as failing to recognize that Puerto Rico is not rural, but rather, “high density in nature with a dramatically lower income level than other areas.” The letter also urged the Commission to recognize the unique challenges of the island and begin “treating Puerto Rico as a priority requiring focused attention.”
As an individual who truly believes in the transformative power of broadband and the opportunities is can provide by way of job creation, educational attainment, and simply improving the quality of life for Americans by providing an invaluable information tool, I am disappointed with the Commission’s handling of this issue. The state of broadband in Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States, should be a priority for the FCC – just as much as the rest of the country. If we are essentially trying to bridge the digital divide that exists in this country, Puerto Rico should certainly be a priority for the FCC.
The Island has much to contribute to the U.S. economy through industries involving pharmaceuticals, energy, and information technology. In its letter, MMTC states that the FCC’s recent Seventh Broadband Deployment Report Notice of Inquiry does not mention Puerto Rico. This is very disheartening, and the fact that “interactive broadband maps posted recently on the FCC website do not contain data for Puerto Rico – instead depicting the island similarly to areas outside of the U.S., like Cuba and Mexico,” as reported in yesterday’s letter to the FCC, adds insult to injury.