Editorial

$42.5 billion won’t be enough to close the US broadband gap

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the first version of its new broadband map, marking a major step toward the distribution of $42.5 billion in funding for network expansions across the country. The maps are set to be used by the government to calculate which states will get the most money from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, with more funding going to those areas with the most unserved locations.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Anniversary: Reflecting on a Major Year of Progress

One year ago, I was standing on the South Lawn of the White House alongside a bipartisan group of lawmakers watching President Biden sign the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), infusing billions of dollars for an unprecedented national broadband deployment effort. We knew at the time it was a historic moment.

The Infrastructure Law is Still about More than Money

A year ago, I urged us all to look beyond the $65 billion the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act sets aside for broadband and realize the importance of Congress’ recognition that access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to full participation in modern life in the United States. I still find this renewed and updated Congressional commitment to universal service to be astounding. We should continue to celebrate it—and continue the work that ensures this commitment becomes a reality.

How Philanthropy Can Help Communities Reach Their Broadband Goals

For community leaders striving for digital equity, I am happy to share Pathways to Digital Equity, a guidebook to help communities evaluate and meet specific connectivity needs.

We’ve been told a lie about rural America

There’s a story Republicans tell about the politics of rural America, one aimed at both rural people and the rest of us. It goes like this: 'Those coastal urban elitist Democrats look down their noses at you, but the GOP has got your back. They hate you; we love you. They ignore you; we’re working for you. Whatever you do, don’t even think about voting for a Democrat.' That story pervades our discussion of the rural-urban divide in US politics. But it’s fundamentally false. The reality is complex.

What's Our Vision of Digital Equity?

This is Digital Inclusion Week 2022, a time to raise awareness of solutions addressing home internet access, personal devices, and local technology training and support programs.

Subsidy blow for Elon Musk raises questions over orbital broadband

The Federal Communications Commission withdrew nearly $900 million in subsidies that had been granted to satellite operator Starlink to bring the internet to 642,000 remote, rural locations. The FCC subsidy was key anchor revenue for a new satellite broadband constellation that has to heavily subsidize customer terminals — priced in most markets at $599 — in order to expand the service. The FCC, in reversing a December 2020 decision, called proposals from Starlink and another subsidy candidate “risky," and questioned Starlink’s ability to deliver a reliable and affordable offer.

Why Congress must prioritize restoring net neutrality

It’s been 18 months since President Joe Biden was inaugurated. Yet restoring crucial net neutrality rules that are the foundation for an open internet continues to languish in Washington (DC). The problem stems from Democratic lawmakers’ inability to confirm Biden’s nominee, Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society], to the Federal Communications Commission. She is needed to break the 2-2 deadlock on the FCC that continues to block action on net neutrality and broadband privacy regulations.

The interests of a significant minority are neglected as everyday tasks are done via smartphones and tablets

On the eve of this week’s rail strikes, it was reported that industry bosses are planning to phase out paper train tickets and shut almost 1,000 station ticket offices in England. The government says nothing has been decided. But the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has made no secret of his desire to see savings delivered in this way; some stations, Mr Shapps likes to point out, sell only a handful of tickets each week and the vast majority of transactions have moved online.

Get Your ACP

We're just a few days from Juneteenth, a holiday that reminds us of the critical connection between communications and equity. June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas first learned about the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Cut off from communications, slaves in Texas were deprived news of their freedom for over two and a half years. One hundred and fifty-seven years later, we can still see how lack of access to communications holds back individuals, families, and communities.