Voters to Policymakers: Bridging the Digital Divide Includes Unlicensed Spectrum
Without a doubt, the 2018 midterm elections revealed a nation divided on many issues and not just along party lines. However, beyond all the rancor and disagreement, Americans of all political stripes have come together on one of our most pressing policy problems: access to broadband internet. Broadband access has sparked a revolution in startup activity, producing an app economy defined by democratized entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, broadband is still unavailable for millions of Americans. In fact, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 19.4 million Americans still cannot access broadband and are therefore left out of the app economy and the revolutionary products and services it is creating for consumers everywhere.
Americans want and need better broadband coverage using unlicensed spectrum, not just for better job prospects, but also to access essential services. In today’s digital economy, education, healthcare, and even agriculture depend on strong, reliable broadband connections. That’s why 2018 midterm voters overwhelmingly support the use of unlicensed spectrum to connect Americans for healthcare (90 percent), education (89 percent), and agriculture (87 percent). The mandate from voters couldn't be clearer: they want policymakers to ensure that spectrum can be leveraged to connect Americans for these essential purposes. This briefing will explore how unlicensed spectrum is being leveraged in pilot projects, how unlicensed connectivity is helping Americans who previously had no access to broadband, and what’s next for broadband deployment in underserved areas.
Join this Hill briefing to:
- Hear from experts on how small telecommunications companies are leveraging unlicensed spectrum to provide cost-effective broadband to rural homes and businesses;
- Gain insight into the challenges of providing broadband in rural, mountainous terrain and how a lack of connectivity impacts the people in these regions; and
- Understand what policymakers in Washington, both on the Hill and in federal agencies, can do to manage spectrum and ensure unlicensed parts of the band are available for broadband use.
Panel participants will include:
- Graham Dufault, ACT | The App Association (moderator)
- Scott Weiner, Fractional CTO, NeuEon
- Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Project, New America
This is a widely attended event. Breakfast will be provided.