Continuing the Discussion: Closing the Digital Divide for All Americans

Federal Communications Bar Association Engineering and Technical Committee 

11/13/2017 - 18:00 to 20:15

In his first speech to staff at the helm of the FCC in January 2017, Chairman Pai announced that his highest priority is to bridge the digital divide – the gap between “those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not.”  As the Chairman has recently noted, those living in rural communities in the U.S. today have more than 1-in-4 chance of lacking access to fixed high-speed broadband at home, compared to Americans in urban areas that have a 1-in-50 probability of the same.

Since Chairman Pai made this commitment, the Commission has taken a wide variety of steps to improve wireless and wireline broadband availability, addressing areas such as Connect America Fund reform to exploring new wireless broadband spectrum to proposing “Gigabit Opportunity Zones” and beyond.

Building on the FCBA’s continued discussion and education around wireless broadband deployment and rural connectivity, join this CLE to hear from engineers, practicing lawyers, and the U.S. government officials to learn about (1) the status of the digital divide and the technical challenges faced in closing it and (2) views on efforts so far to close the digital divide as well as legal and policy issues surrounding these actions.


6:00 – 6:05 p.m.         Welcome and Introductions

6:05 – 6:20 p.m.         Chairman Pai’s Efforts to Close the Digital Divide

Nathan Leamer, Policy Advisor, Office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

6:20 – 7:00 p.m.         Quantifying the Digital Divide and Related Technical Challenges


Jonathan R. Markman, Associate, Mintz Levin


Nicole Turner-Lee, Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation, Brookings Institute

Aaron Smith, Associate Director, Internet Research, Pew Research Center

7:00 – 7:10 p.m.         Break

7:10 – 8:15 p.m.         Evaluating Commission Efforts to Close the Digital Divide and Continuing Legal and Policy Issues


Brian Scarpelli, Senior Policy Counsel, ACT | The App Association


Diane Holland, Vice President, Law & Policy, USTelecom

Ethan Lucarelli, Director, Regulatory and Public Policy, Inmarsat

Paul Garnett, Director, Affordable Access Initiatives, Microsoft

Adam Jorde, Communications Director, Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-AL)

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