Broadband Internet Access is Key to Economic Success

16 Jun

Tomorrow evening at Columbia University 21 Black and Latino high school entrepreneurs will pitch their business models for socially- conscious tech start ups to a panel of judges from NYC’s business and tech sectors. This is the culmination of  the 3-month MOCITE program  (Men of Color in Technology and Entrepreneurship) created by Enza Academy. This years partners include Educational Services Inc, Brooklyn Preparatory Academy and Thurgood Marshall Academy High Schools.

Founded by Social Entrepreneur Weeks Mensah, Enza Academy is led by a team of “conciouspreneurs” equipping low opportunity students of color with the tools they need to improve their lives through technology and tech entrepreneurship. To date Enza has trained hundreds of high school youth on computer science basics, business management and social justice. Enza and their young “Enzavators” and have garnered the attention of the White House, the Chief Technology Office of NYC Mayors Office, with support and sponsorship from City College, Columbia University, Stanford University and countless others in NYC’s and Silicon Valley’s tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem. (Disclosure: I Chair Enza’s advisory board).
What makes Enza possible is broadband internet access: The ability to teach their students with free content online. The ability to build an ecosystem of supporters and mentors, The ability to promote and share content developed by their students and their mentors.
Social enterprises, organizations and companies of all kinds use the internet to build, promote and sustain their programs and deliver goods and services.
However all of this is under threat.
enza students coding .png

Enza Academy Students Learning How to Code

High Premiums for Content We Value?  
Broadband providers such as AT&T  assign a “zero-rating” or $0 fee for viewing to websites and applications in their network and essentially tack on a fee for viewing sites that are not in their network -with a particularly focus on mobile phones, often the single source of internet access for poor students.
For instance students would have unlimited access to Facebook but would be charged for viewing an educational video uploaded by Enza. Zero rating would limit internet access for Enza students’ and other students nationwide that depend on this service for education and economic advancement. Facebook, Twitter and others teamed up with telecoms tried this in South Africa and India (which banned it).

Image source: Creative Commons 

Battle Won this Week, War on Media Justice Continues 
Earlier this week the D.C. Circuit court ruled in favor of the FCC for banning this practice. Of course AT&T and others have vowed to appeal, they want us to pay to not be censored.
Nearly 60 companies and grassroots organizations have been pushing the FCC on this issue. Kickstarter the crowdfunding platform, crowdsourced policy language from the start up community to support the FCC’s fight.
enza pitch competition winners source palo alto online.jpg

Pitch Competition Winners, Enza Summer School at Stanford University

Internet Access is an Issue of Citizenship 
Internet Access is essential for success in education and economic advancement. This makes net neutrality an issue of citizenship in a so called democratic free market economy.
Community Owned Broadband 
If broadband companies don’t agree let’s consider creating developing our own broadband systems – following in the footsteps of a community in the UK that created their own digital broadband service in response to poor service from the corporate providers.##

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: