Digital Divide

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

What the FCC Should Do Now to Support America and Our Learners

Here are five ideas about what the Federal Communications Commission can do, right now, to keep us as a country moving forward:

City of Gonzales, California, handing out internet hotspot devices in "Internet for All" initiative

The City of Gonzales, California, was set to launch "Internet for All" and distribute wireless hotspot devices to residents at a Community Summit in March. But since it was canceled due to coronavirus, the city has had to get creative. The city hosted its first drive-thru event for residents to pick up devices. There are 2,000 hotspots available for residents and so far about 1,000 have been distributed. Residents can get one per household with proof of address. The initiative came about through a partnership between the City of Gonzales and T-Mobile.

Gigabit Isn’t Just for City Folk — Rural Americans Demand High Broadband Speeds Too

There’s a belief out there that households don’t really want or need more than a basic broadband connection, much less gigabit connectivity. This mistaken impression especially affects rural areas, where observers point out that a resident may have more fingers on their hand than Megabits per second (Mbps) on their current Internet connection, so surely they’ll be satisfied with a bump up to broadband speeds of 25 or 50 Mbps. However, demand for high-speed connectivity is actually quite robust in rural areas where the infrastructure exists.

Education Leaders Push for Changes to Keep Americans Connected Pledge

So far, 723 telecommunications companies large and small have signed the Federal Communications Commission's "Keep Americans Connected" pledge. But according to a growing movement, many of those same companies — and especially the largest ones — need to "remove fine print from the internet pledge." A petition which currently has 13,112 signatures is asking FCC C

COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting the Black community. So is the digital divide — and it’s not a coincidence

Those of us who are able to work from home are only able to do so because we have three things — a working computer, broadband access and the technical skills needed to use our devices. But the people who live on the other side of the digital divide — most of whom are people of color, many of whom are people in their 40s, 50s and 60s — can’t work from home. The digital divide has always disproportionately impacted the same communities that have always been left behind in the US.

How to reach students without internet access during coronavirus? Schools get creative

As the coronavirus crisis forces schools across the country to grapple with the challenges of providing remote learning, many schools and districts have had to get creative with low-tech forms of instruction and delivery that don’t require internet connections or digital devices. In Arkansas, where 23 percent of households lack internet service, and schools will be shut for the remain

Getting free internet is hard for poor students despite provider promises, survey finds

Despite promises of help, families in the low-income neighborhoods of Watts, Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles have struggled to get online, with at least 16% of students lacking basic internet access, according to a survey of public school families in those communities released by the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Many more students likely lack the high-speed internet connection needed for regular online academic work, according to the organization, which manages 18 L.A.

Cities Deploy Rapid Digital Inclusion Efforts Amid Crisis

Angelina Panettieri, the legislative manager for information technology and communications with the National League of Cities, is involved with efforts to connect cities with each other so they can share lessons learned during the crisis, and she, too, pointed to digital inclusion as one of the more pressing matters currently facing local leadership. It’s a challenge that faces both the public and private sector as well as city hall itself — how can organizations get devices into people’s hands so they can conduct all their business online?

Locally Owned Rural Telcos Establish Hotspots to Meet Demand during Pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mountain Rural Telephone, Peoples Rural Telephone (PRTC), and Thacker-Grigsby Telephone are providing free hotspots for families that do not have broadband at home. The hotspots are primarily for school, community college, and GED students to complete their nontraditional instruction while face-to-face instruction is on hold.

Wisconsin's Emergency Internet Finder

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced a new web tool that can assist users in finding free-to-use public broadband locations in their area. These "Emergency Internet" locations are for when a user's own internet is too slow or not available. While many of the identified location buildings are closed to the public, their Wi-Fi connections remain accessible. Users should stay in their vehicles while accessing the Wi-Fi and only use it long enough to access critical services.