The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
Exploring the need for a Digital Equity Foundation, options and best practices for its potential structure, governance, and the benefits such a foundation could bring to the public.
As more bipartisan tech-focused bills gain traction in Congress, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a legislative hearing focusing on the security and innovation behind several telecommunications bills. Expert witnesses accompanied lawmakers during the May 24 hearing on the importance of bridging the digital divide with widespread broadband access nationwide.
Charter Communications said that it will commit an additional $1 million to its 2022 Spectrum Digital Education grant initiative, boosting the total amount invested in the six-year program to $8 million. Charter launched Spectrum Digital Education in 2017, and through February 2022 the company said grants and in-kind contributions have helped 99 nonprofit organizations and more than 95,000 people in 22 states and Washington (DC).
The Utah Broadband Center, powered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, recently announced its Broadband Access Grant recipients. The awardees are All West/Utah Inc, Box Elder County Government, CentraCom Interactive, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, and South Utah Valley Electric Special Service District. The Broadband Access Grant program offsets capital expenses in deploying “last-mile broadband” in unserved rural and underserved economically distressed areas.
Installing fiber-optic internet in sparsely populated places like western Kansas is extremely expensive, even with government subsidies. But some smaller, local broadband providers are finding ways to make it work where the big national companies have not. Federal and state governments have poured billions into trying to bring more bandwidth to the remote corners of the country.
Fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband could add more than 10 million subscribers in the next five years, driven by programs geared toward rural markets, according to Wells Fargo telecom and media analysts Eric Luebchow and Steven Cahall. The analysts predict that total broadband subscriber additions will accelerate to 4.5-to-5 million annually in 2023 and 2024, fueled mainly by FWA and fiber overbuilds. Over the next five years, Luebchow and Cahall predict FWA will rise from 7.1 million total subscribers at the end of 2021 to 17.6 million in 2027.
There has been a lot of discussion in the last few months about how wonderful it was for Congress to have increased the speed requirements for broadband grant eligibility to 100/20 Mbps in the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program grants. If we accept that 25/3 Mbps was a good definition for download speed in 2015 and that 100/20 Mbps is a good definition in 2022, then that is an acknowledgment that the demand for download broadband speed has grown at about 21 percent per year.
Hundreds of thousands of Michigan households in rural and urban communities don’t have access to high-speed internet. According to federal data, the average percentage of households in the state’s 83 counties without high-speed internet access is 17.5 percent. Around 13.5 percent of those households don’t have smartphones, computers or tablets that can connect to high-speed internet.
Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Winning Bidder Nextlink Reveals Gigabit Fixed Wireless Speed in 6 GHz Band
Nextlink Internet, which was one of the biggest winning bidders in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, said it has achieved speeds of 1 Gbps doanload and 500 Mbps upload using fixed wireless equipment in the 6 GHz band. The performance was achieved using a 160 MHz channel over distances of two miles, the company said.
Digital inequities allow the digital divide to thrive in the most under-resourced communities. Proof of inequity rarely surfaces in isolation and has a compound effect by multiplying the impact of disadvantage. This research was designed to explore three primary questions. First, is there a predominant race and socioeconomic class of the populations most frequently impacted by the digital divide? Second, does the digital divide impose a collective cost that is shared with digitally disadvantaged and connected households? Third, should investing in digital equity be a national priority?