Jason A. Llorenz, Esq. was recently appointed the Executive Director of the HTTP (Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership), a coalition of more than 20 national and regional Hispanic-serving organizations working to increase awareness of the impact of technology and telecommunications policy on the U.S. Hispanic community. FierceTelecom Editor Sean Buckley recently caught up with Llorenz to talk about his new role and how he is advancing advocacy to close the so-called digital divide that currently exists in the Latino community.
FierceTelecom: What personal experiences or passions make you a good fit for your new role as Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP)?
Llorenz: HTTP is a group of 20-plus member organization of Latino serving organizations so it has a unit voice in the telecommunications industry representing the major voices in the Latino serving organization space. The coalition includes organizations like the U.S. Hispanic chamber of commerce. For the last ten years, the HTTP has been the voice on technology policy. We wind up doing a number of things from regulatory advocacy and issues advocacy like evangelizing issues among Latinos for the coalition in mainstream circles. I came to the HTTP from the National Hispanic Caucus, which is an organization that represents the 320 Latino state legislators around the country. Through my time there, I helped to found the Broadband en Acion Task Force where we brought 10 legislators around the country to form an initiative that would look at broadband and telecom issues from multiple perspectives. We worked over a year and developed several recommendations and put out a white paper. That work positioned me well to take leadership of this national coalition.
FierceTelecom: What is HTTP's overall mission, which groups make up HTTP and who does the organization represent?
Llorenz: Our stated mission is to advance technology and realize technology for underserved communities. To do that we advance an agenda that will refocus federal policy on getting everyone connected. When you look at the numbers, Hispanic communities are less connected to broadband at home and otherwise. Particularly, when you look at Spanish speakers, the digital divide is so apparent and there's a lot of work that needs to be done. In terms of what needs to be done: First, we need a federal policy that puts adoption first. Washington leaders have been stuck in these cult regulatory obscure battles over net neutrality versus what our focus needs to be, on digital literacy and training by developing lower cost services for Latinos. The other thing is that as we're out there educating our own community, we have the internal opportunity to evangelize broadband and technology as a part of the things we care about. This would include an opportunity to do economic development, to increase the quality of the schools and deliver health better and more efficiently. We have an internal and external advocacy role.
FierceTelecom: Is the HTTP engaging with the service provider community?
Llorenz: The focus of our advocacy is in making sure private investment is being incentivized. One of the best ways we can achieve full broadband adoption is if all pistons are firing on the same note so the private sector has a big role to play as well as government. We hope through our work we would be engaging with the service provider community to inspire new business models and better ways to serve the community that will have a great benefit.