Nothing is more essential than communications in today’s technological age. Information and communications technology has become vital to nearly everything we do, from applying for a job to staying in touch with loved ones or accessing healthcare. These technologies should be high quality, available to all, and affordable regardless of income. In addition, the telecommunications industry must be responsive to the nation’s growing communities of color.
Access to broadband continues to lag in communities of color. In addition, communities of color
pay a disproportionate amount of their income towards cell-phone and other telecommunications services. Telecommunications companies also are using their lobbying muscle to further deregulate themselves, meaning that some communities will have fewer safety and affordability protections.
American broadband customers pay more per megabyte than customers in other countries –
nearly six times what customers pay in Japan, Hong Kong, or South Korea. We pay more for
less, in part because 96 percent of Americans have two or fewer Internet service providers to
choose from. This lack of competition means higher prices and less access for working families.
Greenlining gives a voice to communities of color and working families at the agencies that
regulate communications: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the California
Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). We also work directly with telecommunications
companies to ensure that they consider the diverse needs of communities of color in their
investment decisions. We focus on the following critical areas:
- Access and Affordability – We closely monitor corporate deals, FCC or CPUC actions, and legislation that could affect price and access or otherwise harm consumers. Major changes happening in the telecommunications sector could threaten vital consumer protections. Also, as explained in our report, “Saving the Open Internet: The Importance of Net Neutrality,” there is a real danger that small businesses and less affluent Americans could be relegated to Internet “slow lanes” unless action is taken to preserve a free and open Internet. We energetically support net neutrality principles with state and federal regulatory bodies as well as legislators.
- Telecommunications Supplier Diversity – Greenlining is a strong advocate for programs that encourage large companies to do business with minority small businesses. The CPUC’s supplier diversity program, governed by General Order 156, represents an outstanding model. Greenlining monitors the impact of this program, issuing an updated report every spring, and works to expand the use of the GO 156 model in other fields as a way of bringing investments to communities of color.