Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill with real potential to mitigate the digital divide. Most proposals simply call for more money for existing programs or for new programs without evidence they will help. Real-world experience, however, has demonstrated how little we truly understand about why many low-income people do not subscribe. The Markey bill tackles this underlying issue.
A long-standing public policy goal has been ensuring that almost all citizens are connected to some minimum level of communications services. This paper evaluates Comcast’s “voluntary commitment” to introduce a low-income broadband program that Comcast has branded “Internet Essentials (IE).” We use data from the US Census Current Population Survey (CPS) and the National Broadband Map and a differences-in-differences approach to evaluate the program’s effects on subscription rates for eligible households.
Over the past 25 years, the internet has grown and changed in ways, both good and bad, that no one predicted. But at least one thing is constant: concern about how the Internet is regulated. The Federal Communications Commission’s decision in Dec to change the regulatory framework governing internet service providers (ISPs) isn’t going to change that concern.