Digital Divide

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

What will repealing net neutrality rules mean for communities in rural America?

What will repealing net neutrality rules mean for communities in rural America? Public interest groups say it could present unique challenges. Jessica Gonzalez, deputy director and senior counsel for the group Free Press, says most rural communities only have one Internet provider and that provider could do as it pleases if the rule is repealed.

A Time to Give Thanks

Rounding out our December meeting will be two matters that were previewed yesterday.

First, the Federal Communications Commission will consider an order that would restore Internet freedom and return to the bipartisan, light-touch framework that helped America's Internet economy become the envy of the world. And unlike the previous Administration, which pushed through its Internet regulations without letting the public see what was being proposed, anyone can read my plan. It's on the Commission's website —more than three weeks before our scheduled vote.

FCC's Lifeline overhaul sets fire to a bridge over the digital divide

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission took its first major step toward overhauling the controversial Lifeline program in a move that will punish not just low-income citizens but perhaps small, innovative service providers as well.  Yes, Lifeline was once teeming with fraud, waste and abuse. Yes, the program still has significant flaws. And yes, companies that fail to provide adequate services should be forever barred from Lifeline for preying on some of our most vulnerable citizens.

FCC Moves to Transform Lifeline Program for Low-Income Americans

The Federal Communications Commission took steps to transform its Lifeline program. A Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order changes FCC rules to:

Civil Rights Groups Question Lifeline Changes

The National Hispanic Media Coalition, Color of Change, NAACP and the Benton Foundation are among the organizations concerned about proposed changes to the Lifeline program, which is on the docket for the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming open meeting. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- who has long called for reforms to deter waste, fraud and abuse in Lifeline -- is seeking a vote at the agency’s Nov. 16 meeting on a major overhaul of the program, which subsidizes phone and broadband service for the poor.

The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Notice of Funding Opportunity – Financial Issues

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has established basic rules for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) grants in the recent Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). One of the most important aspects of the rules that potential applicants need to understand relates to funding and financing. Note that the NOFO instructs the States what it expects to be included in each state’s broadband grant program for the BEAD funding. The first set of rules concerns the amount of grant funding.

New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for US cities' prosperity

The Centri Tech Foundation launched the Digital Advancement Municipal Index (Muni Index), which uses 16 indicators from four categories – technology, socioeconomics, education, and housing – to capture and compare a city's overall prosperity and digital equity metrics across 308 US cities with populations over 100,000 people. The interactive digital tool offers city leaders seeking to achieve digital advancement a clearer perspective on the greatest opportunities to drive impact in their communities.

FCC Proposes Higher Speed Goals for Small Rural Broadband Providers

The Federal Communications Commission voted to seek comment on a proposal to provide additional universal service support to certain rural carriers in exchange for increasing deployment to more locations at higher speeds. The proposal would make changes to the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program, with the goal of achieving widespread deployment of faster 100/20 Mbps broadband service throughout the rural areas served by rural carriers currently receiving A-CAM support. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on whether and how the FCC could:

Second Cohort of Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Program is Selected

Heartland Forward and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society announced the six communities selected to participate in the second cohort of the Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning Program, which is administered in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The newest cohort of participants include: Bond County, Kankakee County/Pembroke CDC, Kaskaskia College area, Livingston County, Ogle County and Peoria/Woodford (IL) Counties.

Deadlocked FCC could derail President Biden's digital equity plans

The Biden administration has charged the Federal Communications Commission with prohibiting digital discrimination — but without a third Democratic commissioner to break the agency's partisan deadlock, those plans are in trouble. One of President Biden's key domestic priorities, improving internet access and affordability, can't advance unless the Senate confirms his FCC nominee.