FMCC associate presents at “Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide” event

FMCC Research Associate, Professor Heather Hudson, presented at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) conference. The conference on was held in San Diego on May 24 and 25, scheduled to precede the International Communication Association (ICA) conference.

Heather reports that our session had a small but enthusiastic group in the audience, and time for some discussion. She made a presentation on “Broadband for all in the Canadian North? Regulatory Policy and Indigenous Engagement.” She discussed the Canadian context in the North, and the main points of the CRTC decision and an overview of the role of Indigenous participants, stating that she would provide more detail on Indigenous communications organizations in the second presentation.

Heather then presented material prepared by FMCC Coordinator Rob McMahon on “The First Mile Connectivity Consortium: Research, Policy & Public Outreach in Canada”. Rob and other FMCC members were unable to make the conference in person, and so Heather presented on their behalf.

Our session had two other presentations about Indigenous communications issues, from Australia and California. The speaker from Australia, Ellie Rennie from RMIT, said she was very impressed with First Mile. She is doing some research funded by Telstra on cultural issues with mobile services among Aboriginal people.

The other speaker was Catherine Sandoval, a former Commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). She described a project among the Yurok and other tribes in northern California to extend broadband access with funding from the CPUC. There are several areas in northern California on the coast and inland in the coastal mountains that have no broadband and/or cellular service.

California has been proactive in finding funds for digital divide initiatives. The CPUC requires each applicant for a telecom merger approval in California to put up money or construct infrastructure or guarantee low rates for disadvantaged populations as a condition of approval.

There were also several interesting presentations and speakers on community and school access projects and on digital literacy — termed by one participant “digital functionality.” France is implementing a voucher that people can use for digital literacy training.

The full program is now available on the website.