Contributions to a National Broadband Agenda

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Contributions to a National Broadband Agenda

January 2021



The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society’s work on a national broadband agenda is built on the lessons and innovative ideas of communities, public-interest advocates, government officials, and industry experts that have labored to expand broadband’s reach to everyone in the United States. Below we’ve compiled a list of their research reports and briefs that contribute to the ongoing discussion of broadband policy crafted in the public’s interest.


Tribal Technology Assessment: The State of Internet Service on Tribal Lands, by Brian Howard and Traci Morris of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University, includes policy recommendations to improve high-speed broadband on Tribal Lands. (July 2019)

In March 2020, Public Knowledge released a list of short and long-term policy ideas to help Americans during the pandemic. Topics include broadband access, privacy, intellectual property, news media policy, and competition.

In July 2020, Free Press released a list of priorities for Senate action to close the digital divide and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.


How States Are Expanding Broadband Access, by Anne Stauffer, Kathryn de Wit, Anna Read, and Dan Kitson of the Pew Charitable Trusts, explores the promising practices that nine states have adopted to expand broadband access. (February 2020)

In State Broadband Policy: Impact on Availability, Brian Whitacre and Roberto Gallardo find that state-level funding programs increase broadband availability, and municipal or cooperative restrictions lower availability. (July 2020)

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ state broadband policy explorer visualizes how states are expanding access to broadband through laws. A 50-state map illustrates which states have adopted laws in various categories, such as broadband programs and infrastructure access.

In pursuit of the Pritzker administration’s universal broadband goal to connect everyone in Illinois, this study of technology and internet adoption includes cost estimates for providing free broadband access as well providing affordable broadband access to all residents in the State, including in areas with high poverty levels. It further (1) establishes a baseline against which future initiatives can be measured and (2) provides recommendations for next steps to be taken in response to the Illinois General Assembly’s interest in universal broadband.


The Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Successful Strategies for Broadband Public-Private Partnerships, authored by Patrick Lucey and Christopher Mitchell, provides examples of some of the more novel public-private business relationships formed to bring fiber competitors into communities. (July 2016)

Blair Levin and Denise Linn Riedl outline best practices, summarize existing models, and present a framework through which community leaders might begin preliminary project steps given their city’s specific strengths and circumstances in the Next Generation Connectivity Handbook. (December 2016)

The Emerging World of Broadband Public-Private Partnerships: A Business Strategy and Legal Guide, a Benton Institute and Coalition for Local Internet Choice publication by Joanne Hovis, Marc Schulhof, Jim Baller, and Ashley Stelfox, reviews the legal, financial, and strategic issues of public-private partnerships and other municipal broadband models. (Originally released in May 2017, the Benton Institute published an update, Public Infrastructure/Private Service: A Shared-Risk Partnership Model for 21st Century Broadband Infrastructure by Joanne Hovis, Jim Baller, David Talbot, and Cat Blake in October 2020.)

Connecting Cuyahoga: Investment in Digital Inclusion Brings Big Returns for Residents and Administration, a report by Cleveland-based nonprofit Connected Insights, explores the ways digital inclusion could improve the operational efficiency of several Cuyahoga County departments while making county services more accessible to a larger number of citizens. (June 2019)

Digital Equity

Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives, by Benton Faculty Research Fellow Colin Rhinesmith, presents findings from a national study of digital inclusion organizations that help low-income individuals and families adopt high-speed internet service. (January 2016)

AT&T’s Digital Redlining, a mapping analysis of Federal Communications Commission broadband availability data, conducted by Connect Your Community and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, strongly suggests that AT&T has systematically discriminated against lower-income Cleveland neighborhoods in its deployment of home internet over the past decade. (March 2017)

Adoption Persistence: A Longitudinal Study of the Digital Inclusion Impact of the Connect Your Community Project, a study authored by Samantha Schartman-Cycyk and Valdis Krebs, illustrates the long-term impact of a high-touch community-based training program in Cleveland, Ohio. (August 2017)

Five Lessons for Tech-Powered Civic Engagement, a Next Century Cities report published by the Benton Institute, explores the key takeaways and lessons learned from civic technology initiatives in three cities—Austin, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; and Raleigh, North Carolina. (September 2017)

Enabling Opportunities: 5G, the Internet of Things, and Communities of Color, a Brookings report by Nicol Turner-Lee, offers proposals for both government and the private sector to collaborate in the deployment of 5G, while also reaching the communities most in need of high-speed access. (January 2019)

Smart Cities and Digital Equity,” written by John Horrigan and published by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, examines several cities that have sought to embrace smart city technology while keeping equity at the forefront. (June 2019)

Denise Linn-Riedl wrote Toward Inclusive Urban Technology for the Benton Institute. She outlines lessons, cases, and resources developed by local technology champions and planners to address the question, “What does procedural justice look like when cities deploy new technology?” (June 2020)

Growing Healthy Digital Ecosystems During COVID-19 and Beyond, written by Colin Rhinesmith and Susan Kennedy and published by the Benton Institute, examines how digital inclusion coalitions across the country are responding to the triple challenges of the pandemic, growing economic inequality, and racial injustice. (November 2020)


AT&T’s Digital Redlining Leaving Communities Behind for Profit, authored by the Communications Workers of America and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, reveals that AT&T’s service often fails to meet the FCC’s standard for broadband and that the company only offers fiber to a third of its customers. (October 2020)

Accelerating America: Affordability | Adoption | Access, released by Verizon, calls for a national effort to deliver affordable broadband to all Americans. (January 2021)

Digital Skills

Digital Inclusion Outcomes-Based Evaluation, by Colin Rhinesmith and Angela Siefer and published by the Benton Institute, describes the challenges facing community-based organizations and other key stakeholders in using outcomes-based evaluation to measure the success of their digital inclusion programs and offers recommendations toward addressing these shared barriers. (May 2017)

Digitalization and the American Workforce analyzes the changing digital content of hundreds of occupations and offers ways for communities to spread the benefits of digitalization while mitigating its potentially harmful effects. Written by Mark Muro, Sifan Liu, Jacob Whiton, and Siddharth Kulkarni of Brookings. (November 2017)

Digital Skills and Job Training: Community-driven initiatives are leading the way in preparing Americans for today’s jobs, published by Benton Institute and written by John Horrigan, offers lessons for community-driven job-training initiatives that aim to develop digital skills for Americans seeking to participate in the 21st century economy. (October 2018)

Adapting Jobs Programs for Today and Tomorrow explores digital skills training for middle-skill jobs. Published by the Benton Institute and written by John Horrigan. (August 2020)


Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America finds that community-owned fiber-to-the-home networks in the United States generally charge less for entry-level broadband service than do competing private providers. Written by David Talbot, Kira Hessekiel, and Danielle Kehl for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. (January 2018)

Becky Chao and Claire Park wrote The Cost of Connectivity 2020, which explores how a lack of competition in American cities has contributed to high prices for consumers. Published by New America's Open Technology Institute. (July 2020)

If We Build It, Will They Come? Lessons from Open-Access, Middle-Mile Networks, a Benton Institute policy brief by Jordan Arnold and Jonathan Sallet, explains why and how the federal government should support the construction of open-access, middle-mile networks and how that support can be structured. (December 2020)

Community Anchor Institutions

Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan provides ideas and actionable policy recommendations for government leaders that address the broadband needs of anchor institutions. From the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition. (July 2016)

CTC Technology & Energy estimates the cost of deploying high-speed, fiber-optic broadband to community anchor institutions in A Model for Understanding the Cost to Connect Anchor Institutions with Fiber Optics. (February 2018)

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition’s Policy Roadmap lists nine policy priorities related to community anchor institutions. (January 2021)

Broadband Utilization

Emily A. Vogels, Andrew Perrin, Lee Raine, and Monica Anderson analyze survey data to understand how Americans think about the role of the internet and cellphones amid the coronavirus outbreak in the Pew Research Center's 53% of Americans Say the Internet Has Been Essential During the COVID-19 Outbreak. (April 2020)


Removing Regulatory Barriers to Telehealth before and after Covid-19,” a Brookings report by Nicol Turner-Lee, Jack Karsten, and Jordan Roberts, explores what state and federal policies will need to be adopted to prepare for wider adoption and use of telehealth services. (May 2020)

In Advancing Health Equity through Telehealth Interventions During COVID-19 and Beyond: Policy Recommendations and Promising State Models, Lee Taylor-Penn and Emmett Ruff at FamiliesUSA offer recommendations to increase the reach of telehealth, remove barriers to access, and bridge the digital divide. (July 2020)


EducationSuperHighway's 2019 State of the States summarizes data on broadband access to the classroom and finds that the classroom connectivity gap is now closed.

Closing the K–12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning, developed by Boston Consulting Group in partnership with Common Sense Media, estimates the size of the “homework gap,” or digital divide between K-12 students with and without access to high-speed internet and computing devices at home, and the cost of closing it.

Researchers at the Quello Center at Michigan State University examine how differences in the type and quality of home connectivity (e.g., broadband vs. cell phone) relate to school performance and other student outcomes in fifteen, predominantly rural, Michigan school districts in Broadband and Student Performance Gaps.

Brian Howard and Mikhail Sundust, in COVID-19: The Impact of Limited Internet Access and Issues with Social Distancing for Native Students, highlight the broadband access challenges facing Indigenous students and offers recommendations for universities to accommodate those students. (April 2020)


In The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality, Titan Alon, Matthias Doepke, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, and Michèle Tertilt explore how the pandemic will affect gender equality in the labor force for the National Bureau of Economic Research. (April 2020)

How Many Jobs Can be Done at Home? Jonathan I. Dingle and Brent Neiman examine the feasibility of working at home for all occupations and finds significant variation across cities and industries. (June 2020)

Mariya Brussevich, Era Dabla-Norris, and Salma Khalid investigate what types of jobs are most at risk and find evidence to suggest that the pandemic will exacerbate inequality in Who will Bear the Brunt of Lockdown Policies? Evidence from Tele-workability Measures Across Countries, a working paper for the International Monetary Fund. (June 2020)


The United Soybean Board's Rural Broadband and the American Farmer: Connectivity Challenges Limit Agriculture’s Economic Impact and Sustainability examines broadband access on American farms and the broadband needs of modern farmers. (August 2019)

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.

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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
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