Monday, June 26, 2017

GUEST BLOGGER SERIES: Gus West "Hispanics and the Internet: Building their Mobile Future"

GUS WEST PHOTO

Latinovations would like to thank Gus West, Board Chairman of The Hispanic Institute, for his contribution to La Plaza.

In the Hispanic community, the mobile phone is more than just a way to make calls.  For more than half the population, wireless devices are increasingly a link to education, opportunity and everything else the Internet offers.  This mobile adoption is crucial to  ensure that all Americans benefit from rapidly evolving communications opportunities.

This week, the Hispanic Institute and Mobile Future released a paper exploring what broadband means for our community, the role that wireless technologies play in connecting Hispanics and how lower communications taxes can help make these services affordable for all.

Our analysis explores the mobile adoption and usage rates of the nation’s 48 million Hispanics. We offer suggestions on how society, including the Federal government, could use mobile services to tackle increasingly important social problems and explain why it is so critical for government to keep taxes low so all Americans benefit from these new opportunities.

For starters, more than half of America’s Hispanic population uses the mobile Internet, compared to about a third of whites.  Hispanics also account for more minutes used and for a higher percentage of cell-phone ownership than other ethnic groups, despite their comparatively lower incomes.

Hispanics also are doing more with their phones than just calls and texts. Last year, 42 percent of Hispanics accessed music, video, games and other entertainment through the mobile internet, a rate significantly higher than for the general population.

All of this has clear implications for our community.  Some examples:

Taxes. In 2008, wireless users paid nearly $21 billion in federal, state, and local wireless taxes and fees. That is a terribly unfair burden and it hits lower-income individuals and families especially hard.  A public official who wants to help hard-working Hispanic families should do something to lighten this burden.

Economy. Expanded mobile banking options could boost Hispanic economic opportunities, making core banking services more accessible to Hispanics, who are among the most entrepreneurial and mobile Americans.  Mobile services are also a good option to connect Hispanic small businesses.

Health Care. Hispanics are more likely than many other population groups to suffer from diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.  Meanwhile, much of today’s healthcare debate involves improving care, controlling costs and expanding access.  New mobile applications and services can help achieve all of these goals.

The growing mobile usage rate among Hispanic Americans creates an empowering option to improve access to vital government, education and health care services for our community.

Expanding broadband connectivity is essential to enhance our nation’s economy and quality of life through broadband and wireless-fueled innovation. With rising connectivity, Hispanics will be able to take full advantage of the broadband revolution and mobile services, devices and applications could be the best way to make that happen.

To view the report please click here: The Hispanic Institute

Gus West is Board Chair of The Hispanic Institute (HispanicInstitute.net).  This paper was released in conjunction with Mobile Future (MobileFuture.org), a coalition of businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting the benefits of wireless services.