The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg's policies to uplift rural America includes an ambitious and holistic Internet for All initiative to ensure all communities have affordable access to this necessary technology to create businesses, access health care, and expand opportunities for students to learn and thrive.
Political and economic power is shifting to the cities, and 20% of the population — 46 million people — is being left behind in rural America. These communities face increasingly difficult barriers to education, wealth and health. Technological advancements such as 5G and automated vehicles won't directly make life harder for rural America, but instead will fuel inequality by making life that much easier for urban America.
It’s time to recognize that inequal access to broadband translates into inequality of opportunity. People in rural areas that lack broadband face higher unemployment rates, see fewer job and economic opportunities and place children from these communities behind their suburban and peers in school. Of course, this is not just a rural issue – broadband deserts exist within very urban areas as well, where costs can be unaffordable and availability non-existent.
Rural America deserves a partner in the White House. Here’s my plan to put rural Americans back in the driver’s seat:
Reaching the Unconnected: Benefits for kids and schoolwork drive broadband subscriptions, but digital skills training opens doors to household internet use for jobs and learning
Not so long ago, “closing the digital divide” primarily meant getting people online, and a steady upward trend in adoption is evidence of progress on that front. Yet gaps in broadband adoption remain – particularly for low-income households – and closing those gaps is about more than simply offering a low-cost internet service. Even with the availability of low-cost offers, it remains a challenge to encourage the remaining disconnected people to sign up for broadband service.
In 2018, Wisconsin was ranked 32nd for internet access, out of all 50 states. That ranking makes Wisconsin Broadband Office's plan to have internet acess for all WI residents by 2025 a lofty goal said WI State Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point). At the state level, Testin said the Public Service Commission (PSC) has created broadband expansion grants for small providers that typically serve rural and underserved areas. He said between 2014-2018, the state has helped connect more than 4,000 businesses and 75,000 households with high-speed internet.
I’m pleased to see the expansion of the Internet Essentials program throughout the Comcast footprint to include low-income households that receive government assistance like SNAP, Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But a good program doesn’t execute itself. Community problems require community solutions. That’s why I’m also happy to see the list of 10,000 non-profit partners enlisted to help with outreach and training on Internet Essentials throughout the country. Access to the internet impacts almost every social, political, and economic facet of our lives.
I will make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford. That means publicly-owned and operated networks — and no giant Internet service providers running away with taxpayer dollars. My plan will:
In 2017, Dr. Brian Whitacre was approached by Attorney Daryl Parks, who was preparing to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission based on the National Digital Inclusion Alliance's study of AT&T’s Digital Redlining of Cleveland (OH). Parks asked Whitacre to conduct an expert assessment of NDIA’s Cleveland research and provide sworn testimony about his findings, which he did. Parks also asked Whitacre to conduct a similar analysis of AT&T broadband services in Dallas County (TX).
Broadband technologies are getting better and faster — but access to them is still concentrated in metro areas and suburbs, leaving vast swaths of the country with marginal service or nothing at all. Benefits of the broadband advances are mostly going to consumers who already have plenty of options for robust internet connections.