Digital Divide

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

An obscure Pennsylvania law has snarled efforts to bring faster internet speeds to rural communities. Now it might complicate a historic infusion of federal funding.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes the largest-ever federal investment in broadband. Pennsylvania could receive as much as $1 billion — enough to seriously move the needle. But the state may now have another, more unique problem. In 2004, Pennsylvania lawmakers gave telephone companies what one critic at the time described as a “virtual veto” over publicly-owned networks they saw as unwelcome competition. But for years afterward, the law was rarely invoked.

MCNC, which operates North Carolina’s statewide fiber network, ‘fully’ supports Internet for All initiative

MCNC recently announced it will fully support the collaborative efforts from many state, local and federal stakeholders to ensure North Carolina maximizes the unprecedented opportunities now available for broadband and digital equity and inclusion investments.

How Teens Navigate School During COVID-19

Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, some teens faced problems completing their homework because they lacked a computer or internet access at home – a phenomenon often referred to as the “homework gap.” And as students

The Who, What, When, and Where of the FCC’s New Broadband Data Collection

As discussed in Keller & Heckman's initial post in this series, the Federal Communications Commission is about to launch its new Broadband Data Collection (BDC) program.

Making broadband internet connections to New York’s hardest-to-reach places

New York is continuing to expand broadband internet access statewide through a new initiative called ConnectALL. A replacement for former Gov Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)’s New NY Broadband Program, the ConnectALL initiative is a $1.4 billion program that will use $300 million of state money and $1.1 billion from the federal government.

Google Fiber deal could bring high speed internet to 43,000 Vermont households

Two groups of communities in northwest Vermont are close to reaching an agreement with Google Fiber to bring lightning-fast service to some of the state’s most underserved areas. Communications union districts (CUDs) are towns that have banded together to build communication infrastructure. Two of Vermont’s newest CUDs, Northwest FiberworX (with 21 member communities) and Lamoille FiberNet (with 10 member communities), joined forces last year to build, own and maintain an open-access fiber network that can host multiple internet service providers — a first for the state.

States look to electric utilities for broadband connections

States are looking toward electric utilities for new broadband initiatives. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) will be working with Sherburne Electric, a NYPA municipal electricity customer, to use NYPA’s existing fiber network for the middle-mile connection as Sherburne designs and builds out fiber networks to its 1,800 homes and businesses.

Are states ready to close the US digital divide?

Through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), every state will receive at least $100 million to start via the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Allocation of this much federal money to states for a specific objective without a long-standing local department or agency in place to ensure the funds are deployed wisely is rare. Many states do not have a dedicated broadband team. If they do, it is often staffed by just a few people who are tucked inside another agency or staffed by a third party.

Minnesota Announces Historic Funding for Broadband Expansion

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) that will award $95 million in broadband grants across the state, applications must be submitted by August 4, 2022 at 4:00 pm. Building on appropriations from both the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, this grant round contains the highest-ever amount of funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program. Funding from two sources – state and federal – can be used to reimburse for up to half the cost of the broadband infrastructure deployed.

Wisconsin Announces Increased Funding for State Broadband Expansion Grants to $125 Million

Governor Tony Evers (D-WI) and Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq announced that additional funding would be available for the current round of the State Broadband Expansion Grants. This brings the total available funds to $125 million-- $25 million more than what was announced in November 2021. The funding for the grants comes from the 2021-23 Biennial Budget signed by Governor Evers in July 2021, which will be used to expand high-speed broadband internet to unserved or underserved areas of the state.