Digital Divide

The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.

The Last Broadband Gifts From the 116th Congress

With great drama, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 became law on December 27, 2021. The $2.3 trillion COVID relief and government spending bill extended unemployment benefits and ensured the government can keep running. The $900 billion COVID relief provision includes over $7 billion to help improve connectivity in the U.S.

Creating (Finally) an Emergency Broadband Benefit

More than nine months after the national COVID-19 emergency was declared, Congress has directed the Federal Communications Commission to create an emergency broadband benefit, a monthly discount on broadband internet access service for low-income people. On January 4, the FCC released a Public Notice asking for comment on how to best implement this new program which Congress expects to be up and running in the next two months. Here's a look at what the FCC is asking.

FCC Seeks Public Input On New $3.2 Billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Consolidated Appropriations Act or Act). Section 904 of Division N – Additional Coronavirus Response and Relief, Title IX – Broadband Internet Access Service, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act establishes an Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund of $3.2 billion and directs the Federal Communications Commission to use that fund to establish an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, under which eligible households may receive a discount off the cost of broadband service and certain connected devi

How Not to Close the Digital Divide -- Part 1,421

It is Day 1,421 of the Trump Administration. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, from Day 1, has insisted that closing the digital divide is the Trump FCC's top priority. This week, the FCC announced the winners of over $9 billion worth of rural broadband subsidies -- the "single largest step ever taken to close the digital divide," according to Chairman Pai. But looking at the results may leave millions of rural residents apprehensive -- and disconnected.

Charlie, Lucy, Football

A new chapter in our ongoing COVID-response drama began this week when a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion emergency relief plan. For many vulnerable people in the U.S., the lack of affordable broadband connections continues to hinder online learning and remote work. Will Congress finally pass economic relief and target support to reduce the digital divide? 

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Digital Equity Ecosystems

COVID-19 has turned the floodlights on digital inequality in rural, tribal, and urban communities across the United States.

America Needs Broadband Now

For all that has changed since the Benton Institute released Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s, this goal remains paramount. In October 2019, we said that connecting our entire nation through High-Performance Broadband would bring remarkable economic, social, cultural, and personal benefits. We said that open, affordable, robust broadband is the key to all of us reaching for—and achieving—the American Dream.

Broadband for America Now

In October 2019, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society issued Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s. The agenda was comprehensive, constructed upon achievements in communities and insights from experts across the nation. The report outlined the key building blocks of broadband policy—deployment, competition, community anchor institutions, and digital equity (including affordability and adoption).

Everything you wanted to know about broadband (but were afraid to ask)

“Broadband” is short-hand for an “always-on,” high-speed internet connection provided by a company or other entity known as an “internet service provider” (ISP). We say “always-on” to differentiate contemporary internet connections from the dial-up era of the 1990s, when a user had to dial a telephone number through their computer to connect. Today, the internet comes to us uninterrupted and we cannot get “booted off” if someone lifts up a phone receiver. We say “high-speed” connection because not all internet connections are technically broadband (see below for more on this point).

Moving forward together: Supporting state and local broadband leadership

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the General Assembly is considering Gov. Northam’s request to increase funding to bring better broadband to all Virginians. Such support is important, as students stay home and learn, adults stay home and work, and seniors stay home even as they visit their doctor. Funding for broadband would be an important step — and a wake-up call to the federal government. Virginia’s broadband challenges are multifaceted. In rural areas, nearly a third of households have no access to broadband.