Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
University of Virginia Professor Christopher Ali spoke about rural broadband with the Reimagine New York Commission. The rural-urban digital divide is primarily one of infrastructure. At least 22.3% of rural Americans, or 15.8 million people, lack access to broadband infrastructure and are therefore cut off from the internet.
“Middle-skill” jobs make up a large portion of the market, has positions to fill, but suffers from a dearth of trained workers—especially when it comes to digital skills. Digital skills refer to a person’s ability to use digital tools, applications, and networks to access and manage information. Pandemic-driven unemployment will only put the middle-skill issue into sharper relief.
About one-third of the U.S. job market is made up of middle-skill jobs, which do not require four-year college degrees. Data indicate that the number of these jobs exceeds the supply of available workers. The skills needed for these jobs include facility with the internet and computers.
As federal COVID-19 relief is set to expire, Senate Republicans finally unveiled their "starting point" for negotiations between the Senate, the House, and the Administration. Two weeks ago, we wondered if extending broadband's reach and connecting more Americans would be part of the mix. Now we have the answer. At a time when working and learning from home are so important to keeping people healthy, Senate Republicans propose doing nothing to get more of us connected online.
The Open Technology Institute's latest study of the price of internet service, The Cost of Connectivity 2020, finds substantial evidence of an affordability crisis in the United States. From service plans that meet the current Federal Communications Commission definition for broadband at 25/3 Mbps to bigger, bolder standards, U.S. consumers pay more for monthly internet prices on average than European consumers based on advertised metrics. And, perhaps just as importantly, U.S.
Thirty percent of all Americans live in multi-tenant environments (“MTEs”) like apartment buildings. Their annual income tends to be only about 54% of median homeowner income, so they are at greater risk of not being able to afford broadband. When apartment owners can profit by restricting tenants’ broadband options and reducing competition, it adds to our nation’s broadband affordability challenges.
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society announced the appointment of two new board members, Denise Linn Riedl and Leon Wilson. Mayor Pete Buttigieg named Denise Linn Riedl the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of South Bend (IN) at the end of January 2019. Previously, Linn Riedl was in charge of Ecosystem Development at Chicago’s City Tech Collaborative.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to roll out a $1 trillion COVID-response bill as early as the week of July 20. There's no indication yet about whether broadband will be part of the package.
Perhaps there’s no better day to contemplate the critical connection between communications and equity than Juneteenth. 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. In our time when information travels at the speed of the internet, it is almost inconceivable that anyone could be denied information so vital to their well-being for so long.