The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
Indiana is launching a $100 million program to expand broadband internet services across rural parts of the state. Gov Eric Holcomb (R-IN) says the Next Level Broadband program will bridge the digital divide, giving more rural Hoosiers access to the internet for business or personal uses. The governor says the “internet is just as essential to Indiana’s prosperity today as highways were a century ago.” Broadband providers can initially apply for up to $5 million to expand service to unserved areas if they provide at least a 20 percent match.
House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH) agreed with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai that the FCC's latest Sec. 706 broadband deployment report shows "significant progress" in closing the digital divide. "This report shows that the FCC’s efforts to reduce regulatory burdens are helping more Americans gain access to broadband and bringing us closer to finally closing the digital divide,” Ranking Member Walden said.
Digital distress is defined here as census tracts (neighborhoods) that had a 1) high percentage of homes not subscribing to the internet or subscribing only through a cellular data plan and a 2) high percent of homes with no computing devices or relying only on mobile devices. This post takes a deeper look at the socioeconomic characteristics of these digitally distressed areas. The socioeconomic characteristics of those in digital distress denote a higher share of minorities, less educated, poorer, and younger residents.
The dearth of broadband Internet connectivity is the bane of many rural areas, exacerbating demographic decline by contributing to out-migration of millennials and loss of business opportunities. Merely installing high-speed fiber-optic networks across rural America, while vital, will not be enough. Significant public and private investment in K-16 education is required to build a new digital economy future for rural America.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated the draft 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, a report that concludes that the digital divide between Americans with and without access to modern broadband networks has narrowed substantially. The report shows that since the 2018 report, the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC’s benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 25%, from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 19.4 million at the end of 2017.
Digital distress areas have a harder time using and leveraging the internet to improve their quality of life due to the type of internet subscription or devices owned. Digital distress is defined here as census tracts (neighborhoods) that had a 1) high percentage of homes not subscribing to the internet or subscribing only through a cellular data plan and a 2) high percent of homes with no computing devices or relying only on mobile devices.
City politicians and technology leaders pitch Buffalo (NY) as a nascent tech hub, envisioning a rosy future where every child owns a laptop and geeks flock downtown with their edgy startups. But the city may face a major obstacle before this grand vision even gets off the ground: Its internet speeds rank among the country’s slowest, according to two separate analyses by The Buffalo News and the technology firm Ookla. Ookla’s Dec internet-speed report ranked Buffalo’s speeds fifth-last, ahead of only Cleveland (OH), Toledo (OH), Memphis (TN), and Laredo (TX).
The economic reality of varied broadband deployments is that communities with the fastest speeds are most likely to benefit from competition among providers, which further pushes prices down. Thus, we soon will have a divide in which certain dense and high-income communities will have multiple choices for affordable gigabit services, while less dense, lower-income communities may still be stuck with a DSL offering that is 100 times slower but similarly priced.
The Need to Connect: Students in Rural US Struggle Accessing Technology, Hurting Their Abilities to Learn
High school students in rural parts of the US face significant challenges accessing technology that may adversely affect their learning — access that students in more populated parts of the country and policymakers may take for granted, according to surveys of students who took the national ACT test. A new report, “Rural Students: Technology, Coursework and Extracurricular Activities” found that rural students were less likely than non-rural students to claim that their home internet access was “great” (36 percent vs. 46 percent).
San Jose (CA) created the San Jose Digital Inclusion Fund — the largest of its kind in the country. The aim? To bring broadband access to some 50,000 households over the next decade and teach residents who may be new to the web the digital skills they need to navigate it. The city estimates that, even today, around 95,000 residents have no internet access at home. For seniors, the initiative might mean learning how to navigate a health care website that allows them to talk to their doctor more easily.