The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
With too many students in too many places falling into the homework gap, we need to upgrade the E-Rate program by extending the school classroom to the school bus. This would ensure that school districts are reimbursed by the program when they add this technology to their transportation. To drive this change, proposals have been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. They deserve serious consideration.
Prisons are notoriously low-tech places. But urged on by privately owned companies, like JPay, facilities across the country are adding e-messaging, a rudimentary form of email that remains disconnected from the larger web. Nearly half of all state prison systems now have some form of e-messaging: JPay’s services are available to prisoners in 20 states. On the surface, e-messaging seems like an easy and efficient way for families to keep in touch—a quicker 21st-century version of pen-and-paper mail. Companies like JPay cover the price of installing the systems; prisons pay nothing.
The Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on the Petition for Temporary Waiver filed by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA). NTCA, on behalf of its members and similarly situated operators, requests a temporary waiver from the Bureau’s updated Lifeline minimum service standards, “applicable to fixed, wireline broadband Internet access service . . . eligible for support by the Lifeline Universal Service Fund . . .
The House Communications Subcommittee held a long-delayed Federal Communications Commission oversight hearing July 25. Overall, the review of the FCC was split along partisan lines. Republican representatives generally expressed satisfaction with the work of the FCC over the last nine months. Democratic representatives felt differently. The hearing touched on a variety of policy issues, from spectrum allocation, to cybersecurity, to emergency alerts.
As predicted 10 years ago, in the absence of anti-redlining provisions, carriers have not invested in upgrading their broadband capacity in communities of color at anything close to the same rate they have upgraded in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods. As a result, the urban digital divide is once again growing. It’s not just that high-speed broadband is ridiculously expensive, although this is also a serious barrier to adoption in urban areas.
Delaware will build on its existing fiber network and a successful wireless broadband pilot with a Request For Proposals (RFP) aimed at eliminating so-called “broadband deserts” over the next 24 months. Gov. John Carney (D-DE) announced that the state will release an RFP in August seeking private-sector partners to expand wireless broadband in rural Kent and Sussex counties, and in “desert” areas.
Patchwork broadband service in urban centers often goes overlooked, given the pervasive lack of access in many rural counties, but affects “virtually equal numbers of people” in states like Ohio, said one digital equity advocate. Bill Callahan, who runs a Cleveland-based nonprofit working to expand low-income broadband access and serves as policy director for the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, made the observation during a digital equity panel July 23 at Next Century Cities’ Regional Broadband Summit in Pittsburgh.
[Commentary] The digital age and its applications has the potential to eliminate density and geographic proximity requirements, that were so critical during the industrial age. It is possible then, in the digital age, for a rural community to maintain its “rural” feel and continue to leverage its natural amenities while taking advantage of what only dense urban areas enjoyed last century.
[Speech] The primary focus of my remarks will be the primary focus of my chairmanship since day one: closing the digital divide in order to make sure everyone can benefit from the Internet revolution. To date, I’ve visited roughly 90 cities in 33 states in the US, driving more than 8,500 road miles
Lawmakers sparred over ways to bring more investment to rural broadband services. Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said government needs to complement private investment not compete against it.