Digital Divide

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

New NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson Already Has a Lot on His Plate

The Senate has confirmed Alan Davidson as the new National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administrator, and Davidson will need to hit the ground running as NTIA is responsible for the lion’s share of the $65 billion allotted for broadband in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The broadband deployment programs for which NTIA is responsible include the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, the Tribal program and the Middle-Mile program. The BEAD has a budget of $42.5 billion and the other programs add $6 billion to that.

Rep Lawrence Introduces New Legislation to Increase Digital Literacy

Rep Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) introduced the Digital Literacy and Equity Commission Act (HR 6373), new legislation that streamlines the federal government’s approach to digital literacy.

Helping Close Detroit’s Digital Divide Through Project OVERCOME

123NET, Michigan’s largest local fiber internet provider, announced its partnership with the Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) and Grace in Action Collectives (GIAC) to bring high-speed, low-cost internet to an underserved Detroit (MI) neighborhood as part of the Equitable Internet Initiative (EII) in an undertaking known as Project OVERCOME. The one-year project aims to create long-term sustainable infrastructure for digital services to the Southwest Detroit neighborhood.

Wireless Internet Service Providers Seek Tweaks in Affordable Connectivity Program Draft Rules

Wireless internet service providers (ISPs) have some modifications they are asking the Federal Communications Commission to make to its draft Affordable Connectivity Program broadband subsidy before it adopts the rules by Congress‘ January 14 deadline.

Fort Worth, Texas school district builds sustainable CBRS network

Federal funds and municipal bond money have flowed to school districts during the past two years to help connect students to the internet during the global pandemic. Some of this funding has helped create private LTE networks using CBRS spectrum under General Authorized Access. One of these networks serves Texas’ Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD). The network was designed to favor capital investment rather than ongoing operating expenses, since a windfall of funding was available from a bond and from the government’s Emergency Connectivity Fund.

Report on School Connectivity for E-Rate Funding Year 2021

Connected Nation’sConnect K-12” program has released its report on US school connectivity for E-rate Funding Year 2021, which includes findings on the nation’s progress toward meeting the Federal Communication Commission’s bandwidth goal of 1 Mbps per student. Connect K-12 aggregates, analyzes, and visualizes federal E-rate program data at the district and state levels. Key takeaways from the report include:

NYC Corrections Department Expands Inmate Tablet Program

The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) has increased its use of tablets for individuals in custody since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep individuals connected to important resources, and plans are in place to continue to expand on the program even more. Tablets have proven to be a useful tool in improving behavior, offering classes and even as a substitute for the in-person visits curtailed by the pandemic. What initially started as a pilot program has since been expanded to allow the majority of inmates in DOC facilities to have access to a tablet.

Can broadband bridge our economic and political divides?

In November 2021, Congress passed the long-stalled $1 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure package. This includes a $65 billion dollars in federal finding for broadband. This investment, which includes potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for Michigan to extend broadband to smaller towns and rural reaches, promises to stitch these communities and their residents into our global tech-driven economy — giving them a chance to learn and do business with the world.

For Full Effect, Broadband Expansion Will Require Cooperation

Thanks largely to the federal infrastructure law and incoming funding, now is the time to develop the sorts of public-private partnerships to grow broadband access for all residents and businesses, experts contend. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It’s probably a once-in-a-century moment. This is the moment in which we will solve many of our broadband problems, as a nation,” said Joanne Hovis, president of CTC Technology & Energy [andBenton Institute for Broadband & Society Board Member]. Collaborations between the public and private sectors can take many forms.

FCC Commits Over $361 Million in Additional Emergency Connectivity Funding

The Federal Communications Commission announced that it is committing $361,037,156.16 in its latest wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund program support. This round of commitments will support 802 schools, 49 libraries and 8 consortia, which are approved to receive nearly 654,000 connected devices and over 313,000 broadband connections. This seventh funding wave brings total commitments to nearly $4.2 billion since the program was launched on June 29, 2021.