Digital Divide

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

What It's Like to Live in America Without Broadband Internet

More than 24 million Americans, or about 8 percent of the country, who don’t have access to high-speed internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission—and that’s a conservative estimate. Most of them live in rural and tribal areas, though the problem affects urban communities, too. In every single state, a portion of the population doesn’t have access to broadband. The reasons these communities have been left behind are as diverse as the areas themselves.

Stuck in the ‘dial-up’ age

Steve McCloud’s farm is in a black hole on the Kansas prairie. On the map, the Harvey County farm is connected to the superhighway of information that has become a necessity in today’s society. But travel down the dirt road to his farmstead just 4 miles north of Newton and a different reality emerges. The McClouds have slow and somewhat sporadic access to the World Wide Web. A mile to the north Moundridge Communications is running new fiber. But the small-town telephone company can’t help him because he is not in its territory.

Commissioner Clyburn Remarks before the American Library Association

Broadband investment is critical infrastructure investment, which increasingly determines which city, town, or Tribal nation, thrives or not. Broadband is critical in generating sustainable social and economic growth, because like water, roads, railways, electricity, broadband is now fundamental when it comes to a community’s development. 

When it comes to Broadband, Millennials Vote with their Feet

[Commentary] If you just look at overall numbers, our population seems to be behaving just like they did in the industrial age – moving to cities where jobs and people are concentrated. Rural areas that lag in broadband connectivity and digital literacy will continue to suffer from these old trends. However, the digital age is young. Its full effects are still to be felt. Remember it took several decades for electricity or the automobile to revolutionize society.

Rural Population Grows in Counties with a Lower 'Digital Divide'

[Commentary] When they live in remote rural areas, millennials are more likely to reside in a county that has better digital access. The findings could indicate that the digital economy is helping decentralize the economy, not just clustering economic change in the cities that are already the largest. If you just look at overall numbers, our population seems to be behaving just like they did in the industrial age – moving to cities where jobs and people are concentrated.  Rural areas that lag in broadband connectivity and digital literacy will continue to suffer from these old trends.

How healthy is the Internet?

This report features global insights and perspectives across five issues: Privacy and security, Openness, Digital inclusion, Web literacy and Decentralization. How healthy is the Internet? In most cases it’s not a simple question. Certainly, there are some straightforward indicators to watch. Things are getting a bit better in areas like: access, affordability, and encryption. And they are getting worse in: censorship, online harassment, and energy use. Simple indicators miss the complexity that comes with global ecosystems like the Internet.

Chairman Pai Visits Arkansas to Push Rural Internet

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who said his top priority is closing the digital divide in rural America, was close to ground zero of that divide in Arkansas on April 7.

What the FCC Can Do to "Stay Woke" and Build a legacy of Advancing Civil Rights in the Digital Age

[Commentary] As we remember the 50th Anniversary of the silencing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream; as we March for Our Lives to end the senseless violence that continues to silence the dreams of so many; and as we continue to fight for justice and equality in social, economic, and digital treatment; we urge the Federal Communications Commission to take its rightful place in history by mirroring Dr. King’s legacy of compassion, equality, and opportunity. A good start would be for the FCC to act on several imperatives that will help to close the digital divide:


American Library Association Washington Office

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:00 to 18:00

A lunchtime panel discussion on the Tribal Connect Act of 2017 (S.2205) highlighting the importance of broadband connectivity to tribal and rural communities. This discussion will focus on how broadband connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure in rural and tribal regions helps to enhance education, provide economic opportunity, and close the digital divide. The panel will explore the role that libraries play as community institutions that facilitate digital inclusion.

Introductions by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and American Library Association President Jim Neal.

Democratic Sens Slam Chairman Pai for Proposed Limits to Lifeline Program

A group of Democratic Sens slammed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai over his proposal to cut down on a program that helps make broadband and phone service more affordable for low-income households. The Sens' letter targets a proposal introduced by Chairman Pai in November that would significantly curb the scope of benefits from the Lifeline program, which roughly 6.5 million people in poor communities rely on to get access to high-speed internet. Eight million people are eligible for the subsidy program.