The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those with very limited or no access at all.
Nationwide, rural communities have 37% more residents without access to high-speed internet connections when compared with their urban peers. This becomes a problem as classrooms have become increasingly digital, says Kathryn de Wit, manager of the broadband research initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Recent research from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology found that one in every 10 students lacks internet access at home, which makes it hard for them to complete homework assignments outside of school. "If we have a cohort of 10 to 15 percent of students who are in the homework gap now, then how will those students be able to compete in a digital economy in 10 or 15 years?" asked Amy Huffman, a research policy specialist for the NC Broadband Infrastructure office. The state is stepping in with a response to this problem that could eventually close the gap.
House Commerce Committee Democrats Propose $40 Billion for Broadband Buildout In Newest Version of Infrastructure Bill
House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and all 31 Democratic members of the committee introduced the the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s (LIFT) America Act, a comprehensive infrastructure package aimed at combating the climate crisis, expanding broadband internet access and protecting public health. (See
The internet on the Havasupai reservation (AZ) has been a mixed bag. Tribal employees could sign on to their email and do internet searches but not much else. The tribe began working with a company called MuralNet in 2017 to get teachers and students better access. They successfully sought temporary authority from the Federal Communications Commission to use the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum that wasn’t being used. “We’re really putting our chips on EBS,” said Mariel Triggs, chief executive of MuralNet. “It works in extreme cases.
Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and her fellow Senate Broadband Caucus co-chairs hosted a panel about broadband mapping titled, “Broadband Mapping: Discussing Challenges and Solutions.” At the event, Sen Klobuchar highlighted her bill with Sens Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and John Hoeven (R-ND) to improve the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband coverage maps and help close the digital divide.
“Build it and they will come.” This line has become shorthand for the idea that new infrastructure, once built, attracts customers. But with broadband — the technology that brings high-speed, reliable internet into our homes, schools, farms and workplaces—the quote may have an unhappy twist: if you don’t build it, they won’t have a chance. What’s missing is the infrastructure.
The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition joined Mobile Beacon, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation (NACEPF), Public Knowledge and Voqal in asking the Federal Communications Commission to request additional comment on and delay its proceeding to transform the Educational Broadband Service (EBS). The letter identified several topics on which the FCC must request additional comment due to insufficient information:
The Federal Communications Commission authorized nearly $111.6 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to 37,148 unserved rural homes and businesses in 12 states representing the first wave of support from the Connect America Fund Phase II auction. Providers will begin receiving funding in May 2019. In total, the auction allocated $1.488 billion in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) has launched the House Task Force on Rural Broadband to try and help close the rural digital divide and eliminate "digital deserts." “High-speed internet is an essential service in America today—yet too many of our fellow citizens in rural communities are being left behind," said Rep Clyburn. "I have heard numerous stories of families traveling many miles to places where their children can access the internet to do their homework. It’s unacceptable in 2019 that many rural communities have limited to no access to the internet.
SHLB Coalition, CoSN, Mobile Beacon, SETDA, Voqal, and Hundreds of Signatories Petition the FCC to Save EBS
830 signatories representing educational institutions, rural operators, public libraries, nonprofit organizations, anchor institutions, individuals and public interest groups from 48 states and DC united in petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to ensure Educational Broadband Service (EBS) continues to serve its intended educational and public interest purposes. The signatories also ask the FCC to make new EBS licenses available for educational entities and Tribal Nations to connect their communities.