Digital Divide

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

Comcast's Internet Essentials delivers low-cost broadband to people with disabilities

Of the more than 56 million people in the US who have a disability, many haven't been able to afford service or have lacked the digital training to access the internet. The result is that Americans with disabilities are three times more likely than those without a disability to say they never go online. When compared with those who don't have a disability, disabled adults are roughly 20 percentage points less likely to say they subscribe to home broadband and own a traditional computer, a smartphone or a tablet.

DSL, the Slowest Technology, Remains the One Most Available in Rural

  • Digital deserts exist, more so in rural areas.
  • The urban-rural access divide is sizeable and still persists.
  • A little less than half of housing units in the country are sliced up in between either top 6 only providers or other providers only.
  • The technology with the largest footprint in the nation (DSL) also has the lowest median advertised speeds pointing to a potential quality of service issue.

FCC Should Take Efforts to Promote Tribal Access to Spectrum

In 2018, the GAO released a report related to spectrum use for broadband services by tribal entities and selected updates. Specifically, it discusses (1) tribal entities' ability to obtain and access spectrum to provide broadband services and the reported barriers that may exist, and (2) the extent to which FCC promotes and supports tribal efforts to obtain and access spectrum. For that report, GAO interviewed 16 tribal entities that were using wireless technologies. Selected entities varied geographically, among other characteristics.

Broadband in Agriculture Appropriations Bill

On September 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee's Agriculture Subcommittee marked up the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Sen Jeff Merkley, the subcommittee's ranking member, said, "Our bill also protects conservation and agriculture research programs that help our farmers and ranchers continue to be the most productive and efficient in the world, and maintains significant investments in rural broadband and water and wastewater programs." The bill goes before the full Appropriations Committee on Sept 19. 

The Homework Gap: Teacher Perspectives on Closing the Digital Divide

In 2018, Common Sense conducted a national survey and focus groups to understand the challenges and promise of technology use in the classroom for learning. Teachers across the US were asked about the use of educational technology with students in their classrooms, and issues of access emerged:

Chairman Pai talks rural broadband in Bismarck visit

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said North Dakota is "ahead of the curve" in making broadband accessible to its residents during a visit with communications companies in Bismarck (ND). Chairman Pai participated in a roundtable discussion led by Sen John Hoeven (R-SD) at Dakota Carrier Network's office. Participants in the discussion said ND has only some pockets left unserved by broadband, but they said more can be done.

Dear Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, FCC Ajit Pai, Mike Doyle, Et Al: Follow the Money to Solve the Digital Divide.

First, the only way to fix the Digital Divide is to deal with the fact that America has paid multiple times for fiber optic deployments, upgrades of the state-based telecommunications utilities that are mainly controlled by AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink. Unfortunately, for the most part, the companies never delivered and this, in part, created the Digital Divide. Second, at the core — IRREGULATORS v FCC is new, current challenge to expose one of the largest accounting scandals in American history.

All Over the Broadband Map

What if you held a Congressional hearing and consensus broke out? As strange as that proposition may appear to be in Washington these days, there does seem to be general consensus that the Federal Communications Commission isn't doing a good enough job collecting data on where broadband internet access service is available -- and where it ain't.

Cities, not rural areas, are the real Internet deserts

The digital divide is not exclusively or even most significantly a rural problem. Three times as many households in urban areas remain unconnected as in rural areas. And regardless of geography, access isn’t the main reason these homes are without Internet service. The vast majority of US homes without broadband service could have it today, but they don’t want it.

House Communications Subcommittee Examines How to Improve FCC Deployment Monitoring Process, Reduce Digital Divide

Juggling five pieces of proposed legislation for improving the Federal Communications Commission's broadband mapping process, the House Communications Subcommittee grilled representatives of telecommunications and public interest organization - seeking their views about ways to increase the accuracy of the FCC's mapping reports.