The broadband funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a good and overdue start, but more solutions must be deployed and supported if we are to solve this persistent challenge of under-connected communities. Specifically, the bipartisan infrastructure law fails to recognize the important role solutions like municipal and community networks can play in building a stronger, more resilient post-COVID economy — particularly in the hardest-hit communities, which are disproportionately low-income communities of color.
The digital divide facing tribal communities is stark and has remained pronounced despite the best efforts of advocacy groups and tribes themselves to help Indigenous people get online.
In January 2022, America’s wireless providers will begin using a set of radio waves known as C-Band spectrum to expand 5G service to communities large and small across America. But the truth is, we’re playing catch-up. C-Band spectrum is already the backbone of 5G networks around the world because it offers the unique ability to provide high speeds over a wide coverage area, making sure no one gets left out of the new 5G Economy. Nearly 40 countries are already using this spectrum.
During the summer of 2021, the Senate gave overwhelming approval to $65 billion for broadband access in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The pandemic had clearly captured the attention of elected officials. The ultimate success of this initiative depends first on Congress’ final approval, then on the Federal Communications Commission and other government agencies being ready to move quickly in allocating funds.