Digital Divide

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

Gov Pritzker Announces Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning Program

Gov JB Pritzker (D-IL) and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband announced the Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning Program. The program – a collaborative effort by the Illinois Office of Broadband, Illinois-based Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and University of Illinois Extension – will help local governments throughout Illinois receive expert support as they prepare to leverage new dollars that will be made available by the state as well as through the historic passage of the federal infrastructure program.

A comparative study of digital equity plans of four large US cities

The term digital equity is at the forefront of municipal government planning to mitigate digital equity. Digital equity signifies a desired future to be achieved, yet its meaning is not well-established. As such, planning for digital equity offers an opportunity for new discursive construction. This study examines how municipal governments have constructed the concept of digital equity through textual evidence, the digital equity plans of Kansas City (MO), Portland (OR), San Francisco (CA), and Seattle (WA).

As Congress dithers, private organizations step up to bridge digital divide

Even as lawmakers in Washington advance both of President Biden’s signature proposals to strengthen and expand America’s social safety net, it is doing conspicuously little to address one of the more pressing issues facing low-income communities of color across the country: a lack of access to affordable and reliable broadband internet.

The Internet Needs Fair Rules of the Road – and Competitive Drivers

In the past few weeks, the Biden Administration has finally moved forward with nominations to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. As the agencies move forward, fully staffed at last, we hope they will both recognize the role they can play in promoting net neutrality – meaning, in preventing ISPs from taking advantage of their effective gatekeeping roles to favor some services over others. Most people think of net neutrality as the province of the FCC, at least at the federal level.

Alaska is expecting infrastructure funds for broadband efforts

Alaska could receive more than $1 billion from the recently passed federal infrastructure package for high-speed broadband networks. According to Alaska Telecom Association executive director Christine O'Connor, that amount of funding would be “transformational.” “We’ve never seen an environment like this before for broadband,” she said. O’Connor was a member of a broadband task force established by Gov Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) that recently released a report on improving internet access.

What rural Louisiana stands to gain from the infrastructure law

Residents of St. Helena Parish (LA) have long driven on roads that seem to cave in as quickly as they’re fixed. However, local officials are lauding President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law as a chance for change. Broadband internet and roads — two resources that draw frequent complaints in this rural parish with deeply-rooted infrastructure troubles — are key areas the massive bill targets. It holds $65 billion for internet upgrades nationwide, and $110 billion to refurbish bridges and roads.

Mayor Scott announces plan to use $35 million of federal money to close Baltimore broadband gap

Mayor Brandon Scott (D-MD) is announcing Baltimore's latest investment with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars: $35 million focused on the administration’s efforts to close the digital divide. Following his early commitment to address digital disparity, the Mayor has continued to champion efforts to close Baltimore’s digital and broadband divide, with nearly 100,000 city households facing barriers to internet access at home — exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comcast Expands Digital Equity Efforts to Recognize National Veterans and Military Families Month

To help recognize National Veterans and Military Families Month, Comcast announced it would install free WiFi in up to 100 veteran-focused facilities as part of its expanding Lift Zones program. Lift Zones provide free WiFi access outside the home in neighborhood community centers. They complement Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which provides low-cost broadband to eligible consumers, including veterans, inside the home. Both efforts are part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive, ten year, $1 billion commitment to help build a future of unlimited possibilities.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Report November 30, 2021

Information regarding the households participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, including types of services received, support amounts claimed, and demographic details such as geographic locations and Tribal status. 48.53% of program participants qualified because they also participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 39.7% Medicaid, 20% National School Lunch or Breakfast Program, 11.5% because they demonstrated a household income below 135% of the Federal Poverty level.

Report of the Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States

This Task Force seeks to address the digital divide with recommendations that will advise the federal government on ways it can improve access, specifically on rural, agricultural lands. Broadband is the foundational element for all other issues. The recommendations fall largely within five primary categories with some additional key considerations. The five main priorities that the Task Force recommends are to: