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FCC Chairman and Connect2Compete appear at Nexenta Event

By Bill Roth, Vice President, Nexenta Systems

On Wednesday, September 12th, Nexenta hosted a reception for the Chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, and Connect2Compete (C2C), a non-profit organization that seeks to empower citizens with affordable access to technology. More specifically, it is focusing on providing education content, job training and low-cost, high-quality laptops and broadband connectivity to low-income Americans.  The event was organized by Javelin Venture Partners (one of our investors), and staff from Nexenta assisted in the logistics.

Chairman of the FCC Julius Genachowski

Chairman Genachowski was sworn in as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in June 2009. Since then, he has focused the agency on unleashing the opportunities of wired and wireless broadband. He has successfully pursued policies to promote investment and job creation, drive innovation, foster competition, and empower consumers.

During Genachowski's tenure, the FCC has developed, and is implementing, the National Broadband Plan, an ambitious strategy to harness the opportunities of high-speed Internet, promote U.S. global competitiveness, and bring the benefits of 21st century communications to all Americans.

As chief executive of the FCC, Genachowski oversees more than 1700 employees, an agency budget of approximately $400 million per year, and universal service and other programs disbursing about $10 billion annually. For more info, see http://fcc.gov.

Connect2Compete CEO Zach Leverenz

The meeting also was attended by Connect2Compete CEO Zach Leverenz. He has an impressive background in working with non-profits that seek to improve people’s lives through technology. Leverenz most recently served as the CEO of Middle East Education through Technology (MEET). In partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he led the organization through a period of substantial growth, securing new commitments from public and private donors such as HP, Google, Mercy Corps, and USAID. The latter two organizations worked together with MEET in a single partnership.

More broadly, C2C is a national nonprofit organization designed to help narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access, computers, education and jobs content, and digital literacy training more accessible for Americans without home connectivity. The program recently announced the first-ever, multi-media, multilingual, nationwide ad campaign on digital literacy with the Ad Council, which will launch in early 2013. You can see a sample of their public service announcement here: http://www.connect2compete.org/about-us.

Connect2Compete Event At Nexenta

The event at the Nexenta offices was a well-attended affair, with a number of investors and startup executives. The purpose of the event was to unveil the plan by Connect2Compete to make broadband access more widely available in the United States. This is something that politicians have been talking about for a while.

Making Broadband Internet More Accessible, and Why It Is Important

To many, broadband Internet access appears to be a luxury. But consider this: nearly 100,000,000 U.S. households have no access to broadband.

Households without Broadband

These households consist of residents of rural communities, and poor and underserved communities. Also note that 46% of poor households, those most likely to suffer job insecurity, don’t own a computer.

Household without Computers

Also, consider that up to 80% of Fortune 500 companies do their job postings on the Internet alone. Without access to the Internet, poor and underserved communities will have even less of a chance to gain useful work.

To top it all off, there is a clear correlation between computer use and income levels (see below).

Internet Use By Income

To improve this situation, the FCC has helped to bootstrap Connect2Compete as an organization, which among other projects has two major goals. The first is to get the major Internet carriers to offer a $9.95 a month broadband product to those households whose children are on the Free School Lunch Program. Second, working with Microsoft and Redemtech, a computer hardware refurbisher, they intend to make $150 laptops available to the same segment of the population.

While this is a great program, it will fail people if the affected communities do not know about it. So, Connect2 Compete, along with the ad agency Y&R, have come up with a $30M Ad Council campaign that will launch in early 2013 in both English and Spanish to make sure people are aware of this program.

In the next few weeks, C2C will launch pilot programs in over 1,000 schools across 20 states. While the pilot is not being initially deployed to Northern California, Nexenta fully supports this program, and urges everyone to read more about it and add yourself to their email list at: http://connect2compete.org.

 

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More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.