Remarks of Alan Davidson
Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
White House Latino Regional Economic Summit
March 26, 2022
--As Prepared for Delivery--
Thank you Dr. DeSanctis, and thanks to the Community College of Denver for hosting us.
I also want to thank the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. As a lifelong educator, Dr. Biden knows that most Americans are just looking for an opportunity – a fair shot – to pursue their dreams.
Standing in front of you, I can tell you that I am living my own dream, getting the chance to lead the federal agency tasked with fulfilling President Biden’s pledge to connect every American to affordable, high speed Internet service.
I can’t help but think about when I first encountered the Internet, as a student at MIT over 25 years ago. I was struck by this new world of possibility, and the chance it offered to improve people’s lives.
I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
And in the years since, I have devoted my career to the idea that technology should serve human progress.
But the reality today is that far too many Americans never get the chance to have that Internet “Aha moment” like I did.
Maybe they can’t get an Internet connection at home. Or if a connection is available, it’s too expensive. Or maybe they can afford the monthly fee, but they don’t have a device to connect, or they don’t know what they would do online if they did.
We know this problem disproportionately affects communities of color, as well as those in lower-income and rural areas.
In fact, data collected by the Commerce Department shows that Latinos are less likely than white Americans to live in a home with high-speed Internet service, and have lower Internet adoption rates.
Fortunately, President Biden understands this problem and is determined to fix it. Even more importantly, he pulled together a bipartisan group of legislators to pass a law that puts $65 billion toward solving this problem. Of that money, about $48 billion will be distributed by the agency I lead.
We have been talking about the digital divide in this country for over 20 years. We are finally being given the resources to bridge it.
Our team is determined to make sure that these dollars give everyone in America a better shot at making a living wage, discovering their passions, and living out their dreams.
What does that mean in practice?
It means a small business owner, who may be used to selling only in the neighborhood, can put up a new website to reach people across the country.
It means an ESL learner can come home from school, open up a laptop, and work on her homework at the kitchen table while a family member helps her.
It means an elderly woman worried about sitting in a medical waiting room, has a connection in her home and can use it to speak to her doctor.
In 2022, this isn’t too much to ask. We know what is needed, and we know we can get it done.
Past generations of Americans brought water and electricity to every home and built a system of interstate highways from coast to coast.
Those projects required more than just money – they needed a surge in capacity where everyone pitched in.Because in the end, as I have learned in my career, the internet is a means, not an end. It is a way to work where you choose, to study where you want, and to live in the place you love.
Our President has pledged to close the digital divide forever. When we close that gap, we will open up opportunities for millions of Americans.
Today’s event, and the partnerships we create with you to make sure no community is missed, are building that future.