The “device divide” is one of the top reasons why individuals aren’t connected to the internet. That’s why it won’t matter how much Congress invests in connecting everyone to affordable, reliable high-speed internet (and it is investing a lot) — Congress won’t be able to achieve universal connectivity without making sure that low-income consumers can afford to purchase a device.
For the past two decades, community-based providers – that is, thousands of upstart internet service providers – have crisscrossed America, delivering internet access services with adeptness and skill. Using a potent combination of wireless spectrum and fiber, they deliver fixed connectivity to distant rural and hard to serve urban environments. In short, they’re small innovators and entrepreneurs offering needed choice for communities that have been effectively abandoned by legacy phone and cable providers.
Spectrum policy leadership and planning are critical to complete the US 5G ecosystem while planning for the next-generation wireless technology, 6G. It’s also essential to shed some mistakes of the past. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has indicated that a “whole of government” effort is critical to 5G leadership, and she’s right.
With the federal government slow to produce better maps of broadband internet coverage, state leaders are stepping up with their own efforts that they say will yield more granular information that leads to better decisions on the infrastructure buildout. Virginia became the latest state to unveil an effort to revamp its statewide broadband map in summer 2021, following Georgia's map launched in 2020.
Broadband access is a critical component of high-quality education. Connecting “last-mile” rural communities will require smart policies to make certain investments in broadband infrastructure are maximized for actual and timely deployment so that our truly unserved students and communities receive broadband access without delay. This includes pole access reform; the complex and costly process for broadband providers to attach to utility poles is one of the single greatest barriers to rural broadband deployment.
Throughout lawmakers’ partisan wrangling to iron out the details of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the popularity of major provisions held strong among voters according to new polling from Morning Consult and Politico. All of the six potential investments included in the survey received over 50 percent support from voters of all parties.
The pandemic made it clearer than ever how much we depend on a fast, reliable broadband. But getting online for millions of Americans is too costly and in many cases the service is inadequate. Robust competition creates scrutiny and accountability that can prevent big telecommunications companies from expanding data cap limits when people are more dependent than ever on an internet connection. Even during the pandemic, Comcast and other internet service providers still enforce these data caps in markets where they face little or no competition.