The conversation around 5G usually fails to address how it will likely exacerbate the already deep digital divide.
New America's Open Technology Institute urged the Federal Communications Commission to quickly and successfully implement the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new subsidy to help low-income people pay for broadband service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide $50 per month to qualifying low-income households and $75 in Tribal areas. OTI’s comments made the following recommendations:
How to Revive the FCC’s Lifeline Program: A Blueprint to Build Back Better After Four Years of Neglect and Regulatory War
For the past four years, the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program has been dogged by neglectful leadership and repeated attacks from the commission under Chairman Ajit Pai. As the COVID19 pandemic and a persistent digital divide exacerbate income, racial, and geographic inequities, this program has been stifled at a crucial time. In this paper, we review the myriad attacks that Lifeline has endured during the Trump Administration—and build a blueprint for a better path forward.
The Federal Communications Commission does not collect broadband pricing data or analyze the price of broadband access. This is despite numerous studies detailing how cost is one of the biggest barriers to broadband adoption, a stark divide that disproportionately harms Black, Latinx, tribal, and rural communities. The COVID-19 pandemic casts this gap in a grim new light. For the incoming administration, the solution is as close at hand as the nearest jar of pasta sauce or container of ice cream.
This report profiles the many innovative options that school districts have pioneered to build or extend wireless broadband connectivity out to student households that cannot afford to purchase high-speed internet access at home.
Twenty years ago, policymakers set aside the 5.9 GHz band of frequencies specifically for auto safety and vehicle-to-vehicle radio communications. Unfortunately, the band remains almost completely unused. While Wi-Fi is saturating the band immediately below 5.9 GHz and generating hundreds of billions of dollars in consumer welfare annually, the set-aside of 5.9 GHz for a specific auto industry use case and technology has proven an abject failure.
The record shows extensive opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order and the grave danger it poses to public safety and public health, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis. Public health and public safety officials detail in the record how both officials and the public writ large rely on mass-market retail broadband internet access services (BIAS).
Communities across the nation are working hard to address the issue of connectivity for students. But we need a national approach, not an ad-hoc strategy.
The Federal Communications Commission will conduct a transparent public auction that allows all bidders the opportunity to buy what the mobile industry deems prime real estate in their effort to roll out 5G networks nationwide. The sale could yield an estimated $20 billion to $40 billion for the US Treasury, help mobile carriers build 5G networks, and offer wireless internet service providers the opportunity to bring high-speed broadband to rural and hard-to-serve areas—if policymakers get this moment right.
New America’s Open Technology Institute filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging it to reject its proposal to impose restrictions on funding for programs that help low-income consumers, schools and libraries, health care providers, and rural telecommunications providers. OTI submitted the reply comments to illustrate the broad range of initial comments that, similar to OTI's initial comments, oppose the FCC’s plan to implement a spending cap for all four Universal Service Fund (USF) programs.