Digital Divide

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

While Schools Are Closed, Illinois District Uses Buses As Wi-Fi Hotspots

Elementary and secondary school districts across Illinois are moving toward online or e-learning while students remain at home in an effort to contain the coronavirus. One district in southern Illinois has taken a unique approach to ensure every student has access to the internet. Belleville Township High School District 201, located outside St. Louis, is deploying four school buses equipped with WiFi to serve as Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the community.

As classes move online during COVID-19, what are disconnected students to do?

As COVID-19 requires more schools to transition to online learning, the students who were already the most vulnerable to falling behind will face even more hurdles to keep pace. The efforts of the Federal Communications Commission and Internet service providers during this crisis ought to be commended, but their quick response also begs the question: Was broadband access not essential before COVID-19? Long before the coronavirus drew national attention to the issue, digital inclusion advocates were stressing the disparate outcomes for students without internet.

At Schools Closed for Coronavirus, Online Work Won’t Count

For all the talk of online learning during shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, many U.S. public school students will find that the work they do while at home is actually optional. It won’t be graded and it won’t count. Some public schools are calling online work “enrichment,” not part of the curriculum, because they can’t guarantee that all students will have access to it. Students without the internet or home computers can’t do it, and special-needs students may require accommodations to complete it. As a result, millions of schoolchildren risk missing weeks of school.

Rep Aderholt requests emergency funding for rural broadband

Rep Robert Aderholt (R-AL) sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting emergency funds be directed to expanding rural broadband access. He pointed to rural broadband deficiencies as negatively impacting the ability of people in rural areas to utilize telehealth services, which are being recommended to limit the potential spread of coronavirus. “These new realities have left millions of rural Americans who have little or no access to broadband feeling abandoned and desperately in need of help,” Rep Aderholt wrote.

Wi-Fi May Slow, But Low-Income Access Is Key COVID-19 Issue

As large amounts of daytime internet traffic shift from offices and schools to home networks, telecommunications experts predict that for most users, the existing web infrastructure is robust enough to handle the upswing in streaming, conference calling and distance learning. That may not be the case for low-income Americans who struggle to get online in the first place, however. While general Wi-Fi users may see bottlenecks at times, advocates assert that preserving internet access for low-income Americans will dominate as a larger issue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Senators to FCC: No Lifeline Disconnections During Coronavirus Pandemic

Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) called on the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that no eligible American is disconnected from the Lifeline assistance program during the coronavirus pandemic. Since 1985, the FCC’s Lifeline program has made basic internet and telephone service more affordable for low-income Americans.

Amidst School Closures, Klobuchar, Peters, Tester Urge FCC to Ensure Students Have Internet Access

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Jon Tester (D-MT) urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to take action to ensure that students have access to internet so that they can continue learning while schools are closed and to create a consumer-friendly web portal with additional school resources in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

To Fight Coronavirus, Millions More Americans Need Internet Access

One instruction remains consistent and clear during the coronavirus pandemic: Stay home. For many of us, that means taking our daily activities — work, school, medical care and connecting with loved ones — online. But not for everyone.

Our Broadband Moment–Acting Now and Looking Forward

We are in a moment of intertwined public-health and economic crises; a time when immediate measures are in motion to protect our people and protect our ability to survive economically. Nothing is more important. Congress will now consider a huge stimulus bill, which is right. That stimulus bill should include actions that build a lasting broadband future, which is necessary.

The National Broadband Plan at 10: What’s Next?

Eleven years ago Congress asked for a National Broadband Plan. Ten years ago, we delivered it. If Congress were to ask for such a plan for the next decade, what would it contain?  What did we learn from doing the 2010 Plan that would be useful for a team doing one in 2021 to know? I will address those questions by discussing four key differences between then and now, delineating three key learnings, and closing with some eternal truths that animated our effort and should animate the next as well as making one quick suggestion relating to broadband in time of the coronavirus.