Data & Mapping
AT&T expects to see Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding flow from the federal government to the states and expects the “more aggressive” states to award some of that funding to broadband projects before the end of 2023, said AT&T CEO John Stankey. Citing the 80/20 rule, Stankey said, “The bigger states that are going to have the bulk of the funding are pretty zoned in on this and are moving pretty aggressively to get the process underway." Smaller states, he said, may “take a little bit longer to get their act together” and may be waiting to see what the more agg
Engineering firm Dewberry Alaska—in collaboration with mapping company Ecopia AI, Rasmuson Foundation, and the State of Alaska—is working on a broadband map based on what Ecopia AI is calling “an accurate, up-to-date and complete map of every building, in both rural and urban areas, in the state.” Ecopia AI’s specialty is applying artificial intelligence (AI) to satellite imagery to identify buildings.
With a White House and Senate under Democratic control, passing sweeping legislation may be a challenge for House Republicans, but it’s likely that they will apply pressure on the current and forthcoming tech policy goals of the Biden-Harris administration. Despite Republicans’ concerns with the current administration’s spending, closing the digital divide should be an area of opportunity for bipartisan action, especially since many Republicans have constituents in severely underserved rural areas.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) leaders are looking to ensure that billions in government funding are easier to access by the rural communities many federal programs are meant to serve. USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small highlighted USDA's ReConnect Program, which is currently seeing more applications than available funding.
The Federal Communications Commission released a file that contains the number of “units” (usually housing units) in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric). There are 158 million “units” in the Fabric and 140 million housing units in the 2020 Census. In the least dense 2,143 counties, there are 30 million “units” in the Fabric and 24.5 million Census housing units. As counties get more rural, the Fabric increasingly has more locations than the Census. In the least dense counties, the Fabric routinely has 40% more locations than the Census.
The digital divide was first recognized in the mid-1990s. Three decades later, due in part to long-standing economic inequity and the economics of broadband, it remains an impediment to inclusive economic growth, particularly in Black American communities. There are five steps that state and local leaders and broadband stakeholders could take to expand broadband access and promote digital equity and inclusion in Black communities:
The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is developing guidance that will clarify how states should handle the process of distributing Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program funding. Addressing the US Conference of Mayors, NTIA Senior Adviser Sarah Morris said the agency is working to answer many state officials asking how they should manage the distribution of BEAD funding at the local level, including concerns over which projects are worth funding and how to find reliable data.
It turns out there are two digital divides in America. The first one is the familiar divide between those who have Internet subscriptions and those who don’t. Everyone agrees this is a persistent concern, with about 10 percent of the public lacking subscriptions at the last count.
Time is running out for wireless internet service providers (WISPs) to change the government’s mind about unlicensed spectrum. With pressure mounting, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) CEO David Zumwalt sent a fresh letter to the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) warning its current rules could lead to $8.6 billion in broadband subsidy money being spent on areas that are already covered by fixed wireless access services using unlicensed airwaves.
The Virginia Office of Broadband submitted a challenge to the Federal Communications Commission, pointing to a significant number of locations in Virginia that are currently incorrectly reported on the most recent FCC broadband coverage map. In partnership with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Office of Broadband found that there are approximately 358,000 locations in Virginia that are reported on the new map as being served when, in fact, they currently lack access to broadband.