Digital Divide

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

Touch, Trust, and Tech

Addressing community challenges – education, a strong economy, race, and social equity – means that every community institution needs to be part of the solution. And mayors and elected county officials are wise to understand one institution – the public library – brings a unique mix of assets to the table:

Touch:  Pew Research data shows that 80 percent of Americans have been to a public library at some point in a given year – either in-person or online.

Everybody complains about the Rural Broadband Divide, but nobody does anything about it

How can we solve the rural broadband digital divide? On September 6, the Broadband Connects America (a new coalition which includes the Benton Foundation) offered a set of principles for attacking the problem. With countless federal, state, and local projects underway, if there's any telecom policy consensus these days, it is on this: we need better broadband data.

Senate GOP to Trump administration: Don’t get sloppy with broadband

Congress is angling to impose some training wheels on the Trump administration when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars on broadband deployment. Lawmakers are eyeing the reconciliation process for the farm bill as a way to check the Agriculture Department, which manages various telecom subsidies through its Rural Utilities Service (RUS). “Appropriate guidance in the farm bill being reconciled and the department’s continued vigilance are critical to avoiding another boondoggle,” said a Senate GOP aide, referring to past alleged waste in the program.

Access and Affordability Policy for an Open Internet Ecosystem

Sohn set out recommendations to ensure that the Internet is accessible and affordable and that broadband Internet access service (BIAS) providers and online platforms are transparent about how they conduct their businesses. Affordable access to the Internet is rarely discussed in conversations about Internet openness. An open network is of limited value, however, if significant numbers of people cannot access it for cost or other reasons. In the United States, fully twenty percent of Americans are not connected to BIAS.

From Availability to Accessibility: Why the Detroit Public Library Began Partnering with Coin Laundromats

How do you Google a question you do not know the specific vocabulary to phrase? How do you sort through all the answers that come up, and avoid the ads that provide false or misleading information? Many people that we work with do not find high-quality, web-based resources to be accessible, even though the resources are technically available. While accessibility is near impossible without availability, availability without accessibility is perhaps even more disappointing.

Millions Could Lose Service if FCC 'Reforms' Lifeline Program

[Editorial] The Benton Foundation has joined literally hundreds of organizations that are asking the Federal Communications Commission to ensure Lifeline voice and broadband service for low-income households, with minimal disruption to the people who depend on the program for a consistent connection to the world via their telephone or internet connection. We're asking that the FCC:

FCC Chairman Pai's Plan Will Take Broadband Away From Poor People

[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has portrayed the Lifeline program and the people who benefit from it as hopelessly corrupt. Now he is proposing to make changes that will, for all intents and purposes, destroy the program. He aims to severely reduce both the supply of and demand for Lifeline-supported services. 

Setting the Bar for Public Funding: Aiming Higher with the Connect America Fund

[Commentary] How can we improve the biggest tool to closing the digital divide in the Federal Communications Commission’s toolbox: the Connect America Fund. Back in 2011, the FCC adopted a performance goal for the Connect America Fund of ensuring universal access to fixed broadband and concluded it would measure progress towards this outcome based on the number of newly served locations — but it did not articulate any concrete vision for when this universal service goal might be achieved.

What will repealing net neutrality rules mean for communities in rural America?

What will repealing net neutrality rules mean for communities in rural America? Public interest groups say it could present unique challenges. Jessica Gonzalez, deputy director and senior counsel for the group Free Press, says most rural communities only have one Internet provider and that provider could do as it pleases if the rule is repealed.

A Time to Give Thanks

Rounding out our December meeting will be two matters that were previewed yesterday.

First, the Federal Communications Commission will consider an order that would restore Internet freedom and return to the bipartisan, light-touch framework that helped America's Internet economy become the envy of the world. And unlike the previous Administration, which pushed through its Internet regulations without letting the public see what was being proposed, anyone can read my plan. It's on the Commission's website —more than three weeks before our scheduled vote.