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 research shows the high costs of long school closures

When Covid-19 began to sweep across the country in March 2020, schools in every state closed their doors. Remote instruction effectively became a national policy for the rest of that spring. A few months later, however, school districts began to make different decisions about whether to reopen. Across much of the South and the Great Plains as well as some pockets of the Northeast, schools resumed in-person classes in the fall of 2020. Across much of the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, school buildings stayed closed and classes remained online for months.

Mayor Lightfoot Launches Chicago Digital Equity Council

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the launch of the Chicago Digital Equity Council, a cross-sector, community-driven effort to understand and tackle the nuanced barriers to digital equity and close Chicago (IL)’s digital divide once and for all. Chicago’s digital divide is a racial equity issue. Through a comprehensive community engagement strategy, the Digital Equity Council will make recommendations to close this gap, reaching a state of digital equity where all Chicagoans have the digital skills, tools, and resources they need to fully participate in society, democracy, and the economy.

FCC Commits Nearly $39 Million In Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund Support

The Federal Communications Commission committed nearly $39 million in the 14th wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund program support, helping to close the Homework Gap. This latest round of funding is supporting 140 schools, 14 libraries, and 1 consortium across the country, including for students in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Puerto Rico, and Virginia. The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework, to ensure students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with their education.

NTIA Awards Nearly $77 Million to Expand Internet Access in Tribal Communities

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it has awarded 19 grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. The grants, totaling nearly $77 million, are being awarded in 10 states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington.

Broadband expansion is painfully slow for many Mainers despite upgrades

Maine resident Michele Richards has a problem that will resonate with other Mainers who live even just slightly off the beaten path: the internet at her house is so slow that it’s affecting her ability to do her job. Richards, who works remotely, needs to be on the computer all the time. She and her husband Jeff pay $70 each month to Consolidated Communications, the only internet provider to serve their road. In return, they’re supposed to get maximum download speeds of 10 megabits per second, but the internet that comes to their house on DSL technology is usually slower than that.

Black Churches Back Tech Neutral Broadband Buildouts

The Conference of National Black Churches, along with five other groups representing Black clergy and congregations, has called on the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) to allow the $40 billion-plus broadband subsidy money it is handing out to states to be used for whatever technology -- fiber, wireless, etc. -- best fits their communities. That came in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and NTIA administrator Alan Davidson.

Los Angeles Unified and AT&T Deliver High-Speed Internet to Students’ Homes to Bridge the Digital Divide

Los Angeles (CA) Unified School District and AT&T are providing high-speed broadband to students’ homes at no cost to their families. Through this joint effort, more students and households in Los Angeles will have the reliable internet needed to fully participate in education and digital life. This is an investment in high-speed internet to build a better future for Los Angeles Unified students and their families.

New Maps Help Set Priorities for Broadband Deployment

In 2018, Congress provided funding to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to create a National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) and to work with Federal Communications Commissionas well as state and local governments, nonprofits, network owners and operators and other stakeholders to achieve this goal.

Tribal leaders are building a better internet from the ground up

Despite creating the predecessor of the modern internet, US broadband access has remained mired in mediocrity for decades, with Americans paying some of the highest prices in the developed world for spotty, slow connections and abysmal customer support.

Broadband Financials: A Practical Primer

With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program the federal government has made a historic investment of $42.5 billion into broadband infrastructure. This is an unprecedented amount of funding to universalize broadband in the United States – but without proper guidance, it could easily be wasted. This primer provides an introduction to broadband financials and some key questions broadband officials should consider incorporating into their evaluation process.