Opinion: Latino voices necessary in mobile internet debates
CNN Contributor Maria Cardona says Latinos should be more involved in shaping the policies of the technology industry.
July 14th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Opinion: Latino voices necessary in mobile internet debates

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - There has been a lot of talk about how Latinos need to come out and vote to have their voices heard.

But what we haven’t heard enough of is the importance of Latinos becoming active participants in shaping the policies of the technology industry.

I have been interested and involved in helping to ensure Latinos are better versed in telecom and technology issues since I worked for the late Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. He understood minorities had a big stake in our digital future. His work with one of the department’s agencies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, underscored the early benefits of the internet to minority communities.

Currently, I work with Dewey Square, a public affairs firm that has advocated for telecom policies that will make broadband access more accessible and universal.

Now, a report underscores why this is so important.

"Hispanic Broadband Access: Making the Most of the Mobile, Connected Future" outlines research that shows Hispanics are adopting mobile devices at a higher rate than white Americans, and they disproportionately rely on wireless to access job searches, education, health care and government resources.

In 2010, 76% of Hispanics reported using cell phones, with three out of four accessing mobile services other than telephone calls.

In February, there were nearly 17 million unique visits by Hispanics on Facebook, and Twitter use rose by 32%. Hispanics are 17% more likely to keep a personal blog than the general population.

But it is not just social media and blogging. The Hispanic community actually leads in using Internet access to advance their education and economic prospects.

A recent Nevada study found that 57% of Hispanics conduct online job searches, compared to the average Nevadan at 45%. And 49% of Hispanics surveyed used their mobile devices to take online classes or do school work, slightly higher than the average in the area: 44%.

We need to raise our voices on these issues so we can be the architects of our digital future. Why leave it to others when we can - and should - have a say in the telecom policies our elected leaders and government agencies are formulating?

The report lays clear the stakes to the Hispanic community of the ongoing effort to press the U.S. government to make more spectrum – the airwaves on which all digital information is carried to and from our wireless computers and mobile devices - available to meet fast-rising demand for wireless services.

Think about it this way: With wireless users increasingly familiar - and frustrated - waiting for their mobile devices to load, it's important to remember that the iPhone was released only five years ago.

In that short time, mobile data usage has spiked off the charts, and there are now more than 330 million wireless subscriptions, more people than live in the United States.

At the same time, while mobile demand and traffic have exploded, there has been little change in the amount of wireless airwaves available to make all of these connections possible.

In fact, the Federal Communications Commission has warned that wireless demand could outstrip existing network capacity as early as 2013.

If allowed, such a ‘spectrum crunch’ would disproportionately harm the mobile-centric Hispanic population.

Latinos will disproportionately feel the burden with more dropped calls, failed applications, longer wait times to load and higher prices because we use these devices more and at higher rates than other Americans.

But if we don’t claim a stake in the technology debate, these numbers and stats will not help us build a digital world where there is 100% broadband access and adoption across all racial and economic lines, and where the digital divide is a thing of the past.

Will our leaders move past talk to concrete actions that make more spectrum available to expand the wireless web?

This can make the difference between a digital future Latinos will lead or one where the divide gets bigger and our community loses.

Latinos can and should help spur this on by using the exact tools we are using in greater numbers to chime in to our elected leaders the urgency of getting this done now.

Elections and voting booths are not the only place where Latino voices should be saying Si, se puede.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Maria Cardona.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Nana Leveto

    In order to apply for a job online and to complete online job applications, you'll need an email address to use for job searching, Internet access, an up-to-date resume, a cover letter for some jobs, your employment history, and your availability to work if you're applying for a part-time job. ;,.,

    Head to our very own online site as well

    August 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Miriam

    don't have a piece of content at the ready. a0Doing this isn't a big deal to me beacuse I know my clients, and everything I do is specifically targeted towards a single client persona. a0My client can read

    September 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MalibuChick

    Now it is going to be wireless that is a right that the taxpayer has to front.

    July 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alonso

      Maryi think race matters but not as much as the siralimity of the culture and traditions of the couple. Interrcial marriages take a lot of hard work but as long as there is love and understanding the couple should be fine.Some cultures are more similar than others, eg I live in America but come from an African background and i noticed that our culture and traditions have a lot of similiarity with the Latino culture than other cultures. This could be because of the influence of the blacks in South America, therefore i will not mind marrying a latino. I was recently in South Western part of Mexico and I was amazed at how i felt at home. The people have a darker skin tone, the food very similar to west african food especially the tamale and soups! i was amazed! Their mannerisms, their houses, the way they joke around and how hard they work! I was truly impressed.I think it's going to be easier for me to have a successful marriage with someone from this background than others no matter the color of their skin. Eg although i am black, it's going to take a lot more work to marry a black british than for me to marry someone from Latin America because of the wider cultural difference. I love to sometimes infuse jokes into serious issues and the Mexicans that i met did that i lot. It made me miss my home so much! In essence, i think the success of the marriage has more to do with culture and traditions than color. Most interracial marriages need hard work but who cares if you look green or blue, as long as the couple love, respect each other and are prepared to go through thick and thin together they should be fine

      September 16, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. jony

    First they have to learn English in order to debate online...don't see that happening

    July 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • drake mallard

      We urge these politicians to STOP dividing us into groups for their own gains, and treat us as AMERICANS

      July 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |

      Agreed Jake. This is such bullcrap and only a FOOL would believe this nonsense. What about those of us that are PART latino? Oh that's right, we don't exist. The MILLIONS of Americans who are biracial and multiracial don't exist. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Besides, unless every frickin mexican, dominican, puerto rican, cuban, etc was polled for this, its IRRELEVANT AND INACCURATE.

      July 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Almont

        Why are you so upset? reading your comment... you dont feel part of this groups... so?

        July 24, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
      • Tomokazu

        I absolutely agree with you Lynn. The South Beach Diet is popualr for a good reason. It is a solid and reputable program developed by a nationally recognized cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatston. It has been around for quite a few years now. I know a number of people who have had great success following the program.Most people prefer not to follow a structured program, however, for others it is exactly what works best!As a nutritionist, I am cautious about which programs I recommend to my website visitors. The South Beach Diet is a good choice for those who want to go the low carb route for weight loss and maintenance.

        September 16, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Almont

      you'll be surprise... but please keep thinking that way

      July 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kai

    Yet another article about Latinos. Will we EVER STOP talking about them?

    July 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Not needed, definitely not wanted anymore than I want bindweed in my garden.

      July 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • anthony

      Well Kai it sure beats the hell out of talking about illegal immigration. As a latino that's what you get and all you get in the media...Being a third generation mexican american, gulf war veteran and goverment worker I find that the constant talk is mostly in a negative light. At least this is speaking about latino's in a different format and subject matter. So if you don't like hearing about Latino's might I suggest FoxNews...or the Drudge Report.

      July 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brian R

    Wow...this has got to be the biggest "reach" that I've ever come across...this piece just sort of leaves me speechless!

    July 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Amber

    As a Latina, I must say something. Here's a shocker – we aren't all from some village in Mexico. 1) We use mobile technology just fine. 2) We aren't all Democrats. 3) This has nothing to do with Latinos and would require everyone to get on board. Stop using your race to pretend like you are the voice of a leader. Be proud of who you are, but articles like this just sound dumb.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mara

      I believe she was talking about AMERICANS of hispanic descent, not Mexicans. Here's your first clue – "...we use these devices more and at higher rates THAN OTHER AMERICANS." And her point was that since hispanics use wireless technology more than the average, it would behoove them to speak out when legislatures create laws that favor 'traditional' information technologies at the expense of increasing wireless access.


      July 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • Criolla

        Why not refer to only Americans? Why use the Ethnic card? She is talking about "higher rates"is this cost? amount is paid, time used? I do not want any regulations that infringe in my freedom, and specially that will cost me more in taxes. Democrats are running out of stupid opinions. I am fed up of labels.

        July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jorge

    We are issuing a journalistic bias warning, expect heavy showers of selective censorship with gusts of condoned gratuitous disrespect for minorities and discriminatory undertone on this soundoff.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mickey1313

    just say no to latin apologists

    July 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |