COVID-19 has turned the floodlights on digital inequality in rural, tribal, and urban communities across the United States.
In October 2019, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society issued Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s. The agenda was comprehensive, constructed upon achievements in communities and insights from experts across the nation. The report outlined the key building blocks of broadband policy—deployment, competition, community anchor institutions, and digital equity (including affordability and adoption).
The purpose of Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s is to collect, combine, and contribute to a national broadband agenda for the next decade, enlisting the voices of broadband leaders in an ongoing discussion on how public policy can close the digital divide and extend digital opportunity everywhere. Leaders at all levels of government should ensure that everyone is able to use High-Performance Broadband in the next decade by embracing the following building blocks of policy:
The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the scale and consequences of the digital divide and underlined the urgent need to find solutions to digital inequality. Governments are being forced to reassess priorities and step up with innovative solutions to address a range of challenges across health, employment, education, and economic resiliency. As the internet and digital technology will play an increasingly important role in our world, governments must develop policies to deliver affordable and meaningful connectivity to all.
The Government Accountability Office was asked to assess the technologies associated with 5G and their implications. This report discusses (1) how the performance goals and expected uses are to be realized in U.S. 5G wireless networks, (2) the challenges that could affect the performance or usage of 5G wireless networks in the U.S., and (3) policy options to address these challenges.
The type of 5G spectrum used by carriers greatly affects the experience that users enjoy. Some of these spectrum bands are more commonly used in cities and so it’s important to look at these urban locations separately from national measures. Looking at five US cities — Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC — we see the average 5G Download Speed using Verizon is very significantly faster than the other US carriers. In every city, the average 5G Download Speed is over three times faster using Verizon than on either AT&T or T-Mobile.
Challenges Providing Services to K-12 English Learners and Students with Disabilities during COVID-19
GAO reviewed distance learning plans from a nongeneralizable group of 15 school districts, selected for their high proportion of either English learners or students with disabilities.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2020, provided more than $2 trillion in economic stimulus to address the pandemic.
A rapid rise in the number of “power users” consuming 1 TB or more of data per month and continued migration to faster speed tiers are creating new revenue opportunities for broadband service providers, according to the Q3 2020 OpenVault Broadband Insights report. The report also provides a more detailed breakdown of the outsized impact of power users and gigabit speeds on network capacity, particularly in the upstream. Key findings in the OVBI Q32020 report include:
Tribes are some of the least connected communities in the United States. The lack of broadband availability is especially acute on tribal lands, where the American Indian Policy Institute found that only 49 percent of residents have fixed home internet service. Recent testimony by the president of the Navajo Nation confirms that this figure is even worse in the Navajo Nation, where over half of Navajo chapters lack any broadband access.