A critical update to the national broadband map is coming

The Federal Communications Commission is set to release the first round of its updated national broadband map.

States push forward with broadband projects

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act President Joe Biden signed in November 2021 included $65 billion to get high-speed internet to more people. Much of that funding is expected to be channeled into rural and low-income communities. Now, exactly how all those billions will be distributed is still being worked out. In the meantime, many states aren’t waiting. They are boosting broadband access using another pot of cash, tapping into pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act  — a law that included about $360 billion for broadband investments and support.

New president, new FCC, new net neutrality rules?

One policy issue that has haunted every Federal Communications Commission in the past decade, and then some, is net neutrality. That’s the idea that internet service providers have to treat all content equally and can’t slow down or charge more for certain kinds of content. Rules have ping-ponged between administrations. Obama’s FCC put neutrality rules in place in 2015 and Trump’s appointee repealed them in 2017. New Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel supports net neutrality rules. She said, "I think things are always sturdier when they’re written into law.

The government is making broadband more affordable — for now. How do we make that permanent?

Congress created a $3 billion fund to provide low-income Americans with $50 per month for broadband service. The subsidies start May 12 and the program is, for now, temporary.

High-speed internet is the new space race. But do the economics work?

The White House’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan proposes $100 billion for broadband. Right now, however, it is hard to get broadband to large expanses of this country unless the infrastructure is in space. Low-Earth-orbit satellite constellations could bring high-speed internet access to those areas. Elon Musk’s Starlink is the best known, but there are a few other companies in the mix. Who could benefit from this new version of satellite internet? Sascha Segan from PCMag says, "This is going to be transformative for people in rural areas.

As telecommunications companies spend billions on wireless, where does that leave the wired?

A Q&A with Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. 

$1 billion toward better tribal broadband is just a down payment

A Q&A with Matthew Rantanen, director of technology at the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, which runs a wireless network that provides service to 19 tribes near San Diego. He also advocates for policy that will help tribes and said that money is just a baseline. The CARES Act created a $1 billion fund to help tribes build their own networks. It is a good foundational start. But there’s more to be done.

Some tribes are getting help narrowing the digital divide

In Indian Country, the proportion of households with high-speed internet access has consistently lagged behind the rest of the US. There has been some work to improve things, with an influx of federal funding helping some tribes build their own broadband networks. A Federal Communications Commission program is giving tribes across the US wireless-spectrum licenses for free.