The greatest technology question facing South Carolina is whether all of our citizens will have affordable high-speed broadband service. A family that can’t afford high-speed broadband faces enormous barriers to education, employment and health care.
There is a plan to hurdle this barrier of affordability: a memorandum of understanding crafted by Charter Communications in cooperation with the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Asian American Justice Center.
Charter, upon completion of its merger with Time Warner Cable and acquisition of Bright House Networks, will provide high-speed broadband service at a deep discount to households with children on reduced or free school lunch programs and to senior citizens receiving Social Security disability income.
This broadband program addresses the digital divide addressed by South Carolina’s own Federal Communications Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn. In addition to affordability, the agreement hits all the key elements of corporate diversity best practices: governance (three members of the minority community are to join Charter’s new board); management (a new chief diversity officer); and community engagement (through a new external diversity council).
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It also commits Charter to a new initiative in employment diversity and procurement. And 10,000 good-paying jobs for people from communities of color are expected to result from the transactions.
Before Charter’s initiatives can take effect, though, the FCC must approve the merger and acquisition. This is one business transaction that we must all participate in because of its local impact.
We are fortunate to have Ms. Clyburn on the commission. She knows the issues and thinks like a South Carolinian. We are confident that she will fight to have the deal approved because it is good for South Carolina and the country.
The writer is president of Urban League of the Upstate and lives in Greenville.