The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program will fail if Congress doesn’t renew the Affordable Connectivity Program that states are relying on to connect low-income Americans. National Telecommunications and Information Agency Administrator Alan Davidson explained to Congress that the BEAD Program will be
The United States is no stranger to wildfires. These fires can ignite utility poles, melt aerial fiber optic cables, obscure wireless signals, or damage transmitting or receiving equipment. This kind of damage can cut homes off from key public safety resources, and prevent calls for help in the most dire situations. As states now know their share of the $42.5 billion Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, they should begin planning new network deployments and upgrades to withstand increasingly severe natural disasters.
Municipal leaders are on the front lines of the digital divide, responding to the needs and concerns of the communities they serve.
On June 14, 2023, the White House kicked off a “week of action” devoted to raising awareness and enrollment for the Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”). Nationally, only 18.7 million of the eligible 52 million households (35.8%) are enrolled in the program. This is a truly outstanding achievement for a program that is only a year and a half old. Though there are countless examples of how beneficial the ACP is for communities nationwide, there is a danger the ACP may not last much longer.
The most powerful broadband advocacy starts in communities where residents inform of the connectivity solutions they need.
The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules outlining how broadband providers must design the label, what information it needs to include, and where it should be displayed. The FCC also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking public comment on crucial accessibility and including network management statistics. Such requirements include the following:
In the past, the Federal Communication Commission has made sweeping changes that have impacted communities without local input. The federal government is now poised to do the same again. This paper examines the public comment process at the FCC and whether municipal filers ultimately influence the Commission’s decisions. This paper suggests that the FCC must improve its community outreach efforts, specifically through the following suggestions:
These days, there isn’t a lot of harmony in the world of technology policy. But there is a bright spot of bipartisanship in a section of our airwaves: the 5.9 GHz band. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to modernize the rules in this spectrum to allow both Wi-Fi and automotive safety tech to operate. This win-win was celebrated by proponents of car safety and broadband alike. But now the Department of Transportation (DOT) is working on a study that may purposely have been designed to undo this decision.
Civis Analytics, a data science firm that helps state and local governments refine their public engagement, has a new technology suite to help agencies better understand the digital divide. “Digital Equity Intelligence Center” is a library of data models and an interactive map-based application.
While the recent COVID-response programs are welcomed additions to the effort to connect all people, they are only one part of the total ecosystem required to achieve universal service. The Universal Service Fund continues to be an important part of that ecosystem. Specifically, the Lifeline program’s voice and data and voiceonly subsidies for consumers is not replicated elsewhere, and the Emergency Connectivity Fund program does not reach as far or cover as many needs as the E-rate program. One program does not serve all ends.