Coronavirus and Connectivity

Through our Headlines news service, Benton is tracking the role of broadband in the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Click on titles below for full summaries of articles and links to sources.

House Commerce Chairman Pallone, Doyle Statement on Launch of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Internet service isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity like any other utility. This has never been truer than it is now, as hundreds of millions of families across the country are relying on it to telework, attend tele-health appointments, and keep their kids learning in virtual classrooms. Our economy would fall apart without it, yet right now millions of Americans are struggling to afford it. That’s why Congress enacted the Emergency Broadband Benefit last year – because it’s time to get serious about bridging the digital divide, and in that fight, affordability is half the battle.

Rural CBRS Wireless Broadband Pilot Project Unveiled

The state of South Carolina has teamed up with educational broadcasters, 5G tech suppliers, and others to launch a residential wireless broadband pilot project using COVID-19 aid funding.

How Does the Emergency Broadband Benefit Discount Work?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program launches on May 12. Here's what you need to know

Funding - Congress dedicated $3.2 billion to the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Discounts – eligible households can receive discounts off monthly broadband service:

FCC to Launch $7.17 Billion Connectivity Fund Program

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Report and Order establishes the rules and policies governing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

The Secretary of the Treasury is issuing this Interim Final Rule to implement the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Capital Projects Fund

The Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CCPF) will address many challenges laid bare by the pandemic, especially in rural America and low- and moderate-income communities, helping to ensure that all communities have access to the high-quality, modern infrastructure needed to thrive, including internet access. The American Rescue Plan provides $10 billion for payments to States, territories, and Tribal governments to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency. The America

A county-by-county look at the broadband gap

As we kick off our Infrastructure Week series, we wanted to show the scope of the problem ourselves. This map shows where the broadband problem is worst — the areas where the difficulty of reliably connecting to the internet has gotten bad enough to become a drag on everyday life. Specifically, the colored-in areas show US counties where less than 15 percent of households are using the internet at broadband speed, defined as 25Mbps download speed.

How the homework gap may actually be the key to solving our digital divide

Beyond supporting students, information being collected by schools across the country could prove useful when addressing the problem of the digital divide. The work to close the so-called homework gap, exacerbated when the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools and forced 50 million students to suddenly adopt remote learning, could also provide the federal and state governments a roadmap toward fixing the broader digital divide problem. The homework gap is a subset of a much larger d

To Bridge The Digital Divide, Biden Administration Launches Vaccine Hotline

To help overcome the digital divide, the Biden Administration has launched a new vaccination assistance hotline for people who would prefer to get information via telephone. It's part of the administration's push to get 70% of adults in the U.S. vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4. "We know that millions of people in America don't have consistent access to broadband or are uncomfortable navigating the web," wrote Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith, who chairs the Biden administration's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.

Will The Government's New Broadband Subsidies Close The Digital Divide For Older Americans?

On May 12, the Federal Communications Commission will launch the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which will have internet service providers give low-income Americans who qualify up to $50 off per month for broadband service. Advocates for older adults say the government's new broadband subsidies are a good step towards closing the digital divide — but that much more will need to be done to get them on the internet.