Digital Divide

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

'Greatest challenge' to closing digital divide is uncertainty about ACP, advocates warn

Whether or not the US closes its digital divide may come down to the fate of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP): the $14.25 billion program currently subsidizing broadband by $30/month for over 15.7 million households (up to $75 on tribal lands). That's the view of the National Urban League (NUL).

After Friday the 13th, a Failed Broadband Mapping Challenge Process

January 13, 2023 was a major milestone in the process of moving $42.5 billion from the federal government to states to distribute mostly to rural areas to build new, modern internet access networks. January 13th marked the deadline for error corrections (called challenges) to the official national broadband map that will be used to determine how much each state will get.

2022 Annual Report of Minnesota Governor's Task Force on Broadband

Improvements in our state broadband mapping data and related resources has revealed that we have more households and businesses without access to broadband than understood in 2021 (>198,000 with no service or insufficient service @ 25/3 and >291,000 @ 100/20). As the new Federal Communications Commission "fabric map" updates coverage through a challenge process, it is expected this number will reveal further deficits in coverage.

The End of ACP

There are almost 15.6 million households using the broadband subsidy from the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The program started with a little over 9 million households at the start of 2022 and added over 500,000 new enrollees per month. Several folks who track funding say that ACP is going to run out of money sometime in the summer of 2024. The obvious solution to keep ACP operating is for Congress to refill the ACP funding bucket.

Colorado broadband director talks local deployment challenges, funding opportunities

Brandy Reitter, executive director of the Colorado Broadband Office (CBO), discussed what the state’s broadband coverage looks like, local challenges with deployment, and progress on the funding front. In terms of coverage gaps, Reitter estimates there are about 166,000 households and 360,000 locations across Colorado without access to high-speed broadband, with over half of those households (around 93,000) having cited a lack of physical infrastructure as the main obstacle to broadband access.

As Stakeholders Rush to File Broadband Availability Challenges, Is It Already Too Late for Location Challenges?

January 13, 2023 was the date set by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for challenges to be made to the National Broadband Map, which will be used to determine how much money goes to each state in the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) rural broadband funding program.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Even as new public funding spouts for broadband deployment are turning on, other major challenges must be overcome before the Digital Divide can be closed—or at least significantly narrowed. Besides getting critical funding support, service providers must assemble the labor, materials, equipment, and contractors to build the new broadband networks. They must secure federal, state, regional, and/or local regulatory approvals to install the new networks and serve customers. And in many cases, they must work out agreements with utilities to share poles or other facilities.

Michigan Launches Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) Grant Program

The Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) Grant Program is a high-speed internet last mile and middle mile infrastructure competitive grant program with $238 million in project funds from the US Treasury as part of the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. ROBIN provides funds to internet service providers and public-private partnerships for the expansion of broadband infrastructure to unserved areas. Applications for the ROBIN program will be accepted through an online application system.

Evaluating the impact of broadband access and internet use in a small underserved rural community

Despite increased investment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of households in the rural United States still lack adequate access to high-speed internet. In this study, we evaluate a wireless broadband network deployed in Turney, a small, underserved rural community in northwest Missouri. In addition to collecting survey data before and after this internet intervention, we collected pre-treatment and post-treatment survey data from comparison communities to serve as a control group.

American Rescue Plan Helping North Carolina Complete Access to Broadband

North Carolina’s rural population is larger than that of any other state except Texas. More than 4 million people live in rural North Carolina. Over the last 10 years, the population of 18- to 64-year-olds living in these areas has been decreasing, and the population of adults 65 and older is steadily increasing. In addition to these demographic changes, rural North Carolina communities face challenges related to workforce development, capital access, infrastructure, health, land use, and environment and community preservation.