The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
Fitting the monthly cost of a broadband subscription into a low-income household budget is difficult, to say the least, because of the costs of competing necessities like lodging, food, and healthcare. These financial pressures—and unexpected expenses—keep too many people in the U.S. from subscribing to home broadband service—or cause them to drop service at times to make ends meet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recognized these obstacles for low-income people and created a program—first called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program—to reduce the monthly costs of connectivity.
The pandemic spurred policymakers and community leaders around the country to create programs to connect those without home broadband service or computers. These programs have had an impact. New government data show sharp increases in broadband and computer adoption in the 2019-to-2021 time frame. Initiatives such as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) have helped address “subscription vulnerability” for low-income households. With progress evident, it is time to extend and build on the ACP and local affordability programs.
The Federal Communications Commission released a pre-production draft of its new National Broadband Map. The map will display specific location-level information about broadband services available throughout the country – a significant step forward from the census block level data previously collected. This release of the draft map kicks off the public challenge processes that will play a critical role in improving the accuracy of the map.
Over the last two years, in California and across the country, billions of public dollars have been allocated to end the digital divide. The Digital Equity LA coalition, supported by the California Community Foundation (CCF) Digital Equity Initiative, has mobilized to ensure these investments are directed to the communities that need them most—those that have been historically marginalized and are disproportionately disconnected—and deployed in support of the most effective long-term solutions.
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.
When it comes to broadband, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is about more than money. For example, Congress also directed the Federal Communications Commission to consider the impact of the law's $65 billion broadband investment on the FCC's existing broadband support programs under the umbrella of the Universal Service Fund (known to wonks as the USF).
By statute, Minnesota's goal is that, no later than 2022, all Minnesota homes and businesses have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. And, no later than 2026, all Minnesota homes and businesses will have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps. Moreover, Minnesota has set state goals for how it will compare to other regions. By 2022, the state plans to be in:
Since 2005, Maine has recognized the importance of adequate internet service to everyday life and commerce, in both urban and rural areas of the state. On July 14, the US Department of Treasury approved the state's plan to connect 22,500 homes and businesses through Maine Infrastructure Ready. Maine has two similar, but separate broadband authorities: the ConnectMaine Authority (ConnectME) and Maine Connectivity Authority. The Maine Connectivity Authority will oversee Maine Infrastructure Ready, a competitive broadband infrastructure grant program.
Maryland wants broadband networks to reach everyone in the state. Its efforts got a boost this week when the US Department of the Treasury approved the state's plan to apply 55 percent of its allocation from the Capital Projects Fund towards broadband deployment. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that just 2.6 percent of Marylanders lack access to broadband networks that can deliver speeds of 25 Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps uploads.