The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
As we follow the recommendations for physical distancing, the importance of online connectivity increases. Schools and universities have moved to distant learning, telework has become the norm for many industries and workers, and essential public and government services have moved online. Yet millions of Americans, disproportionately low income households, senior citizens, communities of color and rural Americans, don't have access to or can't afford needed broadband Internet connections.
State and local governments are working overtime to provide Internet service to all who need it during the pandemic, pushing out a range of ad hoc projects designed to keep members of their communities connected.
It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic to reveal that the Internet is a basic human right. Yet in California, home to Silicon Valley, 20 percent of students are not connected in their homes. The solution is clear — build an infrastructure with public-private partnerships to enable systems-level change that addresses the root causes of the issue, creates coordination and empowers various groups across communities. Tech companies, state and local governments, school districts, ISPs, and community organizations all need to invest in a coordinated manner.
The sudden shift to remote learning has exposed cracks in today's digital teaching strategies, as parents and teachers struggle with the challenges of recreating the classroom experience online. Demand for ed tech services has surged, as has interest in training for teachers to work online. To prepare for the fall, school districts should vet and limit which products they use, says Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
During the Great Depression, people waited in bread lines for sustenance. In today's economic crisis, the internet is often the pathway for relief. Online is where people try to keep or find work. How they see their doctor or apply for jobless benefits. How they order food and supplies. Where they find solace through faith, or laughter through entertainment.
House Democrats are pushing to include more than $1 billion in the next economic relief package to help pay low-income Americans’ broadband bills. Democrats are said to be considering whether to distribute the aid through the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program, which provides monthly discounts of $9.25 for about 7 million low-income subscribers, or through a new broadband subsidy program. The push is aimed at helping millions of low-income Americans and newly unemployed workers afford internet services to help them stay connected with family, look for jobs, and continue sc
The Washington State Broadband Office estimates over 300 new drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots are coming online statewide through an initiative to bring free public broadband internet access to all residents. To date, 140 of the new drive-in hotspots are operational, in addition to 301 existing Washington State Library hotspots identified across the state.
Rebuild Rural Coalition urges Congress to prioritize rural infrastructure in next COVID-19 relief package
A letter to the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress advocates for increased rural infrastructure funding in any future COVID-19 relief packages. The 258 local, state and national organizations called on Congress to “Ensure that our rural communities have access to: clean and safe drinking water and wastewater facilities, secure and dependable surface transportation, reliable and affordable power, healthcare, housing, and broadband and research institutions with state-of-the-art facilities, in order to thrive and attract future generations.
The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare many of the inequalities in America, including the differences in access to broadband Internet. Three policies that can help: (1) allow cities to provide their own broadband; (2) expand and reform Lifeline; and (3) provide tax incentives to firms that subsidize their employees’ broadband. The first of these policies stimulates the “supply” of broadband, while the second two stimulate “demand.” Together, these policies should help reduce the digital divide.
50 Baltimore orgs are joining together to close the digital divide — during the pandemic, and beyond
In Baltimore (MD), nearly one-quarter of households lack internet access at home and 18% lack access to a device. The Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition includes 50 organizations from across the city to address the digital divide that has existed in Baltimore for years, but is being exacerbated in a time when school and work often require device and internet connectivity at home, and gathering points that would provide access like schools and community centers are closed.