This year marks the 15th anniversary of Apple introducing the iPhone, a launch that spawned other innovations, time-saving tools, and millions of selfies. The time has gone by in the blink of a camera app. Latinos were early adopters of this new technology, but disparities in access to affordable internet service and computers have created a tech-equity gap limiting educational and economic opportunities and access to health-related services and information for Latino, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

The Pew Research Center found that only 65% of Latino adults say they have a home broadband connection, compared with 80% of White respondents. Not surprisingly, this disparity also directly correlates with a family’s household income, with those earning $50,000 or less most often saying they have trouble paying for a broadband connection at home. These effects are compounded for the nearly 4 million Latinos estimated to be living in rural parts of the country, a burgeoning segment of our population.

Addressing these multilayered challenges must be top of mind as state and local governments work to establish digital equity plans that seek to increase broadband access. At HTTP, the national Latino voice in tech and telecommunications policy, we are collaborating with federal, state, and local leaders to promote inclusive public policies that ensure equitable access to broadband and the economic opportunity it provides.

As the federal government prepares a historic $65 billion investment in broadband adoption, we encourage local leaders to leverage those funds to build their internal capacity to develop informed, thoughtful, and culturally relevant strategies to make universal broadband — and educational and workforce equity — a reality.

Meeting the connectivity needs of historically excluded communities will challenge municipalities to develop innovative, open, and flexible strategies that match the diverse needs, terrain, and demographics of the residents they serve. It also requires us as community members, policymakers, and private industry to evolve how we define and encourage broadband deployment so that we can make the most efficient use of our taxpayer dollars to connect as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

Read the full article about broadband access by Danielle McLean at Smart Cities Dive.