In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the largest U.S. investment ever in broadband access, affordability, and adoption. With $65 billion flowing to broadband, Congress also asked the Federal Communications Commission to determine what impact the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will have in achieving universal service goals for broadband. This week, the FCC launched a proceeding seeking public comment on how to best make sure everyone in the U.S. can use broadband.
Technology is a tool, a tool that can be used, if distributed equitably, to improve society. At the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, we are not for broadband just for broadband’s sake. In the "Broadband & Society" part of our name, we recognize that in our increasingly digital lives, equitable access to broadband and a just society are inseparable. Broadband's potential, its promise, is not just quicker communication, but improving education, healthcare, job training and acquisition, economic development, delivering government services, and so much more.
Last week, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that on November 24, USDA will begin accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas. USDA's Rural Utilities Service is making the funding available through the ReConnect Program and plans to make ava
As the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act awaits a vote in the House of Representatives later this month, a debate over the future of the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund (USF) is already starting. Provisions in the infrastructure bill call for the FCC to quickly complete an evaluation of how the legislation will impact how the FCC's achieves the goal of deploying broadband to all Americans. Congress wants to know how the FCC can be more effective in achieving this goal. One brewing USF issue is how we pay for it.
New research from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South, highlights the importance of addressing the digital divide—and doing it as soon as possible. The Joint Center examined the overlooked and unique plight of Black residents in rural counties with populations that are at least 35 percent Black (152 counties in 10 Southern states), which the Joint Center refers to as the “Black Rural So
As the debate about investing in broadband infrastructure continues in Washington this month, it was heartening to see that President Joseph Biden acted to address competition in residential broadband service. Here's a quick look at what he did. On July 9, President Biden signed an Executive Order launching a "whole-of-government" effort to promote competition across the economy. The Executive Order includes 72 initiatives.
On June 3, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the availability of nearly $1 billion in National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grants to expand broadband access and adoption on Tribal lands. "Indigenous communities have shaped our nation throughout our history," said Vice President Harris.
Typically, the Department of Treasury is outside the scope of broadband policy. But in March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, directing Treasury to disperse many, many billions of dollars to help State, local, and Tribal governments respond to the pandemic. And these billions may be used to expand access to broadband.