The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
As it works to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission has updated and modernized its National Broadband Map so the map can once again be a key source of broadband deployment information for consumers, policymakers, researchers, and others. The new, cloud-based map will support more frequent data updates and display improvements at a far lower cost than the original mapping platform, which had not been updated in years. Improvements and features in the successor National Broadband Map include:
President Donald Trump took issue with the speed of broadband buildouts to rural American and to anchor institutions, calling it an "intolerable" situation, though suggesting as with many other things that it was a problem he had inherited. In the President's Economic Report to the Congress released Feb 21, he suggested the broadband ball had been dropped on prior watches. "President Clinton promised to connect 'every classroom, every library, and every hospital in America,' to the Internet by 2000," he wrote. "Decades later, 39% of rural Americans still lack high-speed broadband.
The Federal Communications Commission is getting major pushback on its vote to revamp the Lifeline communications subsidy program. Over 200 organizations, including the ACLU, American Library Association, the Benton Foundation and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, have written FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to reject his own proposal. Initial comments were due Feb. 21, with reply comments due in March.
Remarks Of Jay Schwarz, Wireline Advisor To FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, At The 2018 Utilities Broadband Workshop Of The Utilities Technology Council
Utilities—who are already everywhere; who have already connected this nation once with electricity—have an important role to play in the coming connected future. I’m here today because we are every bit as excited about the prospect of utilities building out broadband networks. Utilities are ideally positioned to get more involved in the broadband game. For starters, utilities have something much more powerful than SpaceX’s 23-story-tall jumbo rockets. Utilities have poles. Utilities already own much of the infrastructure.
The Federal Communications Commission should create more incentives for companies to deploy service over fixed and mobile wireless networks to undercapitalized communities. One way we can do this, is by making wireless spectrum available through auctions.
Opening Remarks Of Chairman Ajit Pai At The National Congress Of American Indians Executive Council Winter Session
Increasing access to broadband and other telecommunications services in rural areas, including on Tribal lands, has been one of my top priorities. The good news is that the percentage of Americans living on Tribal lands who lack access to high-speed broadband has been cut in half since I arrived at the Federal Communications Commission in 2012. The bad news is that that percentage is still over four times higher than for the overall US population.
Sens Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act of 2018 to help close the urban-rural digital divide and expand access to broadband in rural communities.
President Donald Trump's new 10-year plan for "rebuilding infrastructure in America" doesn't contain any funding specifically earmarked for improving Internet access. Instead, the plan sets aside a pool of funding for numerous types of infrastructure projects, and broadband is one of the eligible categories. Broadband would be eligible for funding from a proposed $20 billion Transformative Projects Program, along with transportation, clean water, drinking water, energy, and commercial space.
President Donald Trump's $200 billion infrastructure proposal released Feb 12 includes $50 billion in funding for rural communities, but nothing specific for broadband deployment. Even though President Trump has talked about the importance of expanding broadband in rural areas, he has not committed any funding to help build networks. Instead, his efforts have been aimed at eliminating red tape and regulation to get infrastructure built.