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On YouTube-Debate Night, America split by a digital divide

It’s time for the first of the CNN-YouTube Presidential Debates. It will be broadcast on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/citizentube July 23, 2007. But sadly missing so far in the race that is so dependent on the Internet is any mention of the digital divide.

As this article says, there are “two Americas online: one that’s connected to high-speed Internet — socializing, paying bills, uploading debate questions to presidential candidates on YouTube — and one that’s not. This is the digital divide, now more than a decade old, a rarely discussed schism in which the unconnected are second-class citizens. In some parts of this so-called Internet ghetto, the screech of a telephone modem dialing up to get online is not uncommon. And with dial-up, YouTube is impossible to use.”


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Less than a mile and a half from the Citadel, the site of the Democratic presidential debate tonight, sits Cooper River Courts, a public housing project. Forget the Web. Never mind YouTube, the debate’s co-sponsor. Here, owning a computer and getting on the Internet (through DSL or cable or Wi-Fi) is a luxury.

…”At one level, the YouTube debate shows that the Web has really become a centerpiece of American political culture,” adds Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet. “At another level, it also shows that the debate is not for everybody. It’s certainly not available to all Americans.”

That is especially true at Cooper River Courts, where Tiara Reid, 14, in her jeans shorts and pink striped top, runs up and down the complex asking friends if anyone wants to go the library. Finally her mom, Jossie, who works at a deli, drives her and a neighbor’s daughter. With school out and without Internet access at home, the library is the only place where she can go on the Web — for a maximum of two hours a day.

FCC program to fund broadband for rural healthcare

FCC LAUNCHES “RURAL HEALTH CARE PILOT PROGRAM” WEBSITE Press Release (November 21, 2006) fcc.gov

The FCC has launched a website (http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/rural/rhcp.html) that provides a consolidated source of information about the FCC’s recently announced Rural Health Care Pilot Program. The website includes the Order adopting the pilot program and the accompanying news release, a PDF slide presentation giving an overview of the program, and frequently asked questions (FAQs), The website will be updated periodically, as appropriate.

The FCC’s pilot program is an innovative, enhanced funding initiative intended to help public and non-profit health care providers construct state- and region-wide broadband networks to provide telehealth and telemedicine services throughout the nation. The program will fund up to 85% of the costs of constructing those networks, as well as the costs of advanced telecommunications and information services that will ride over these networks. If selected, up to 85% of the cost of connecting to Internet2, a dedicated nationwide backbone, may also be funded by the pilot program. Connection to Internet 2 is not required, but may be requested by the applicants….