Civic Engagement

Broadband Mapping By and For Communities

On Monday, September 26, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Director of Research and Fellowships Dr. Revati Prasad hosted an online panel discussion, From the Ground Up: Broadband Mapping By and for Communities, on how communities and states are collecting data on local broadband availability as the Federal Communications Commission rolls out the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) program.

Helping communities prepare for broadband opportunity

The Roman philosopher Seneca said that good luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. In what the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has called “our broadband moments,” preparation requires bold community leadership that moves a community to gather data and build trusted relationships allowing them to be ready to act when opportunity arises. President Biden has pledged to make sure that every American has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet. Full participation in our twenty-first century economy requires no less.

How an Investigation of Fake FCC Comments Snared a Prominent DC Media Firm

Millions of records that the Federal Communications Commission’s top lawyer once fought to hold back from state law enforcement officials now serve as key evidence in a year-long probe into cases of Americans being impersonated during the agency’s latest net neutrality proceeding.

Inclusion and Civic Engagement in Public Technology Building and Planning

Whether they are Wi-Fi kiosks, urban sensors, fiber networks, or built-from-scratch “smart” neighborhoods, new urban technology deployments are under the microscope. Despite the potential of these projects to drive innovation and economic growth, they are often met with mixed reception and a myriad of justifiable questions. Take the Quayside project in Toronto led by Sidewalk Labs.

Baltimore’s redlining legacy has lasting impact, residents tell FCC

Representatives of the Federal Communications Commission visited Baltimore to hear about residents’ experience of digital discrimination in the city. Some said the city’s past continues to affect technology access today. Some residents told the FCC that the city’s majority-Black population is concentrated in areas where internet service is slow. Others said multi-generational households often lack the funds to pay for high-speed internet service.

Why community digital equity discussions should be in person

Iowa’s Department of Management (DOM) is kicking off a series of 50-plus town hall-style meetings to learn directly from residents what broadband and digital services they need. The in-person meetings, which DOM announced on March 6, started on March 14 and will run through late May. They will cover four topic areas: accessibility, affordability, digital devices, and digital skills. One reason the meetings are not available virtually is to emphasize local, in-person participation, said Matt Behrens, the state’s chief information officer.

Peggy Schaffer: Maine towns should control their internet future

Community decision-making is the foundation of Maine’s DNA. Town meetings, volunteer school boards, and local planning efforts are all central to what makes this Maine. Dozens of communities have started this process with local people identifying locations and groups needing better service to develop plans addressing these gaps. But these community-led efforts are under threat from big monopoly internet service providers, who fear competition will lose customers.

Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority Seeking Public Input on Community Engagement Efforts

Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority Executive Director Brandon Carson is asking Pennsylvanians to provide input on the stakeholder engagement process for developing two plans: the State Digital Equity Plan and the Commonwealth’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Five-Year Action Plan. The two-week public comment period began on February 27 and ends Friday, March 10, 2023. The State Digital Equity Stakeholder Engagement Plan will focus on engaging eight primary populations required through federal guidance – aging individuals, incarcerated individuals, veterans, indivi

Colorado goes analog to boost affordable internet program after just 23% of eligible households join

An effort to boost awareness of the year-old Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is getting more local after earlier attempts to promote it statewide resulted in just 23% of eligible Colorado households signing up to get up to $30 off their internet bills. To get the rest of the 77% signed up, state officials feel that the campaign needs to go analog and provide help right in local libraries, schools, and community centers.

Influencing the BEAD Rules

One of the most interesting aspects of the upcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grants is that the Infrastructure Ivestment and Jobs Acy requires states to solicit feedback from the public. I can’t recall that ever happening with any grants in the past—normally the rules are handed down from on-high, and that’s that. States have to solicit feedback on two grant programs. First will be each state’s share of the $42.5 billion of BEAD broadband infrastructure grants. Second is the state’s portion of $1.44 billion in digital equity grants.