by Juan Pablo Giometti:

Broadband is a medium that business owners are using to enhance productivity, expand markets, and attract new customers. This tool is of particular value to Hispanics, who are increasingly using it to launch small businesses and pursue other economic activities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minority-owned firms are growing four times faster than all U.S. firms and accounted for over half of the two million businesses started in the U.S. in the past decade. These trends are incredible and a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit inherent in all Hispanics. Equally as important, these new ventures are critical sources of new jobs. Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States, employing half of the American labor force, and have produced between 60 and 80 percent of net new jobs in the economy over the past decade.

In the 21st century, broadband will be the backbone of continued small business gains. The flexibility and dynamic nature of this technology has enabled a new entrepreneurial culture for small businesses across the U.S. The Internet creates a level playing field where all businesses can compete on equal terms. Broadband connects small business owners to the same set of resources being used by larger businesses in the U.S. and across the globe. It also lowers and eliminates a number of barriers that have held back or prevented similar activities in the analog world. For example, the capital needed to launch a business via the Internet is significantly lower than that needed for a traditional bricks-and-mortar business.

The Internet is indispensable to small business owners, as it facilitates cost savings and holds the potential to provide businesses with competitive advantages, among many other things. Without broadband, many small companies would not be able to stay in business. This is why it is so important for entrepreneurs to not only have ready access to broadband connections and the myriad of online tools available to assist small businesses, but to also have the ability to enter into contractual arrangements with service providers.  This option will allow small business owners to receive content and services in a way that is most conducive to meeting their business needs.   While broadband technology may open the door to opportunity for Hispanics, many new minority-owned businesses still struggle to gain a foothold once online. Having the freedom to negotiate service and delivery agreements with their broadband service providers could make the difference between business success and failure.

With this is mind, it is clear what policymakers should and should not do when it comes to broadband.  They should do all that they can to increase the broadband adoption rate among Hispanics generally and Hispanic entrepreneurs specifically. They should ensure that new users are able to not only get online but also be able to effectively utilize their connection for personal and economic activities. They should not implement new regulations that might intentionally or unintentionally impede the ability of Hispanic small businesses to compete on a level playing field with more established online firms. We are not asking for an unfair advantage. Rather, we are asking to be allowed to play by the same rules that others have been playing by for the last decade. The future of American enterprise depends on it.

 

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