John Horrigan

ITIF’s Analysis of Broadband and Affordability Misses the Mark

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the digital divide on policymakers’ agenda like never before. It is challenging them to find solutions that meet the urgency of the crisis while building a foundation for sustainable progress over time. This means that policymakers will want to build on lessons learned and explore new approaches. In contemplating these and other ideas, policymakers may want to look at analysis of broadband adoption barriers – the more reliable the better.

Providing Free and Affordable Broadband for All in Illinois

In order to achieve the goal of universal broadband for everyone in Illinois, broadband must be available and affordable. However, home broadband service is out of reach for many low-income households in Illinois that are unable to afford subscriptions. Therefore, efforts to promote universal broadband should include programs that offer access to affordable broadband service, as well as access to low-cost digital devices and digital literacy training, which have been highlighted as necessary to promote digital inclusion and meaningful broadband adoption.

Aging Connected: Closing the Connectivity Gap for Older Americans

OATS, in partnership with the Humana Foundation, for the first time quantifies the size and degree of the digital isolation crisis among seniors in the United States, finding nearly 22 million older Americans continue to lack broadband access at home. Key findings:

Disconnected in Maryland: Statewide Data Show the Racial and Economic Underpinnings of the Digital Divide

This report takes stock of digital inclusion in Maryland by examining two digital access tools that enable robust online access. The first is wireline high-speed internet subscriptions at home. The other is whether a household has a working desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. Analysis of household adoption for home wireline internet service and computing devices shows that:

Digital Tools & Learning

The pandemic has made getting computers and internet connections to households with school-age children a priority. The “homework gap” is sizable. Before the pandemic, some 16.9 million children under the age of 18 lived in households without wireline internet service and 7.3 million live in homes without a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. What was a homework gap is now a learning gap. Many states and localities have responded.

The Digital Divide in Connecticut

In the state of Connecticut, nearly one-quarter (23%) of Connecticut households do not have high-speed internet subscriptions at home. Connectivity deficits fall hardest on low-income residents, older adults, and communities of color. 36% of households below the state’s median income do not have wireline broadband compared with 11% of all other households. 36% of Connecticut residents age 65 and older do not have wireline broadband at home. 35% of Hispanics lack wireline broadband at home compared with 21% of whites. 34% of African Americans do not have wireline broadband.

Statement to the Reimagine New York State Commission

Inclusion is at the foundation of communications policy in this country. The Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 both rest on the notion that advanced communications networks should be universally available and affordable. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that there is still more to be done to adapt these policy principles to the internet age. In just two decades, having the internet at home has gone from being a toy for hobbyists to an indispensable tool for commerce, education, and connectedness.

Adapting Jobs Programs for Today and Tomorrow

“Middle-skill” jobs make up a large portion of the market, has positions to fill, but suffers from a dearth of trained workers—especially when it comes to digital skills. Digital skills refer to a person’s ability to use digital tools, applications, and networks to access and manage information. Pandemic-driven unemployment will only put the middle-skill issue into sharper relief.

Creating Opportunity: New Jobs Require Digital Skills and Broadband

About one-third of the U.S. job market is made up of middle-skill jobs, which do not require four-year college degrees. Data indicate that the number of these jobs exceeds the supply of available workers. The skills needed for these jobs include facility with the internet and computers.

“Middle-skill” jobs make up a large portion of the market, has positions to fill, but suffers from a dearth of trained workers—especially when it comes to digital skills.