Policies, Plans, and Promises

The Policies, Plans, and Promises Research Group will conduct comparative policy analyses to understand how states are approaching specific issues critical to ensuring equitable broadband. As part of the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and the $2.75 billion Digital Equity Act (DEA), the federal government has charged states with leading the work, crafting plans to make universal broadband access and adoption a reality.  These plans are intended to work in tandem, and together speak to how states are thinking about and planning for next steps. Fellows will conduct a textual analysis of BEAD and digital equity plans, as well as interviews with state broadband leaders and relevant stakeholders.  The first two projects under this group will focus on community anchor institutions (CAIs) and tribal broadband.

Community anchor institutions: NTIA guidelines ask states to account for community anchor institutions (CAIs) in both their BEAD and DEA Program submissions. CAIs, such as schools and libraries, have played a vital role in providing access to the internet, devices, and digital skills training, particularly in low-income and rural communities.

  • Emily Rubin—PhD Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin and recently a Research Fellow at the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition—will examine how states plan to incorporate community anchor institutions (CAIs) like schools and libraries,  in their connectivity and digital equity plans. Specifically, Rubin will delve into how different states are using flexible definitions of “anchor institutions”  as a deliberate strategy for equitable broadband.

Tribal Broadband: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recognizes that the digital divide is particularly acute for tribal nations and identifies Indigenous and Native Americans as one of the underrepresented communities disproportionately impacted by digital inequity. States are charged with coordination, stakeholder engagement, and outreach with tribal and native entities as they plan for and implement both the BEAD Program and the DEA Programs. States must not only address tribal needs but also demonstrate their engagement process with tribal entities.

  • Sharayah Lane, Senior Advisor for Indigenous Community Connectivity at the Internet Society, will examine how states are working with tribal nations in their BEAD and DEA processes. She will examine how states are considering needs in Indian Country and how they are establishing partnerships and managing outreach and coordination with tribal governments and other tribal entities.

The Policies, Plans and Promises Research Group will also produce other research and analysis on state planning efforts looking at a range of issues, including approaches to affordability, digital safety, sustainability, and others.