Digital Divide

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

San Francisco Aims to Close the Digital Divide with Citywide Fiber Project

San Francisco (CA) plans to narrow its digital divide with a new network of high-speed fiber connectivity. The city is scheduled to begin the first phase of a three-year buildout in the first quarter of 2020, San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said. “We believe this is one of the most important broadband projects in our country today,” said Mayor Farrell, as he reiterated a need to bring affordable high-speed Internet access into every home and business.

USDA Seeks Applicants for Rural Broadband Access Loans

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces that it is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2018 for the Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees Program (the Broadband Program). Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis. Every ninety (90) days, RUS will conduct an evaluation of the submitted applications.

Rural Colorado is about to score a major broadband win

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) is poised to sign a bill to allocate $115 million in the next five years to extend high-speed internet to rural Colorado, a significant step toward achieving his goal to connect the entire state. The measure is a legacy piece for the term-limited governor and a major victory for state lawmakers who prioritized the needs of beleaguered rural communities as a way to bridge their deep divide with the state’s robust urban areas.

5G could widen the gap between haves and have-nots

For all the hype and potential benefits that stem from 5G, there are few parts of the world that will actually see deployments in the next few years. Other countries are still moving to 4G, or even struggling to offer any level of internet connectivity. The Alliance for Affordable Internet's (A4AI) 2017 affordability report found that only 19 countries can say they have affordable internet. Overall, the digital divide between rich and poor was found only to be widening. A new set of advantages for the connected only look set to leave the unconnected even further behind.

The FCC's Blurry Vision of Satellite Broadband

[Commentary] In Feb 2018, the Federal Communications Commission released its most recent Broadband Deployment Report, which bases its analysis on 2016 data delivered by all Internet providers. At first glance, improvements in broadband coverage are noticeable; a national summary of the accompanying map indicates that over 95 percent of all Americans now have access to the official broadband threshold (25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream). The intuitive “fixed” technologies (DSL, Cable, Fiber) made up over 95% of all 25/3 entries in the 2014 and 2015 records.

Chairman Pai Response to Rep. Tonko Regarding the Digital Divide

On Nov 9, Rep Paul Tonko (D-NY) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai expressing concern that, "the FCC is failing to bridge the digital divide because of faulty broadband data and inappropriately low baseline standards for rural service." 

Chairman Pai Response to Rep. Welch Regarding Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Recommendations

On Jan 22, Rep Peter Welch (D-VT) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urging him not to act on recommendations from the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) until the group reaches a consensus on how best to spur broadband deployment and define the FCC's goal of bringing "reasonably comparable" broadband service to rural America. 

Public Knowledge Files Reply Comments Opposing FCC Move to Abandon Low-Income Americans

Public Knowledge filed reply comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry entitled, “Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers.”

Reps Eshoo and Clarke Urge FCC Chairman to Protect Lifeline Program

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) sent a letter signed by over 60 House members to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, urging him to protect the Lifeline program which provides access to phone and broadband services to over 13 million low-income Americans, the majority of whom earn less than $10,000 a year. 

USDA Seeks Applications for Funding to Increase Access to E-Connectivity/Broadband in Unserved Rural Areas

The US Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for grants to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved rural communities. USDA is accepting applications through May 14 in the Community Connect program. Grants from $100,000 to $3 million are available to state and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits and for-profit corporations. Applicants must be able to provide a 15 percent match on the desired grant amount.