Fitting the monthly cost of a broadband subscription into a low-income household budget is difficult, to say the least, because of the costs of competing necessities like lodging, food, and healthcare. These financial pressures—and unexpected expenses—keep too many people in the U.S. from subscribing to home broadband service—or cause them to drop service at times to make ends meet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recognized these obstacles for low-income people and created a program—first called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program—to reduce the monthly costs of connectivity.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Utah to Receive Nearly $1 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funds to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet
The Department of Treasury approved broadband projects in an additional six states under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Utah. Together, these states will use their funding to connect more than 180,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.
The pandemic spurred policymakers and community leaders around the country to create programs to connect those without home broadband service or computers. These programs have had an impact. New government data show sharp increases in broadband and computer adoption in the 2019-to-2021 time frame. Initiatives such as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) have helped address “subscription vulnerability” for low-income households. With progress evident, it is time to extend and build on the ACP and local affordability programs.
The Federal Communications Commission released a pre-production draft of its new National Broadband Map. The map will display specific location-level information about broadband services available throughout the country – a significant step forward from the census block level data previously collected. This release of the draft map kicks off the public challenge processes that will play a critical role in improving the accuracy of the map.
On Monday, September 26, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Director of Research and Fellowships Dr. Revati Prasad hosted an online panel discussion, From the Ground Up: Broadband Mapping By and for Communities, on how communities and states are collecting data on local broadband availability as the Federal Communications Commission rolls out the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) program.
Treasury Announces Four Additional Capital Projects Fund Awards to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet
The US Department of the Treasury announced the approval of broadband projects in four additional states under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan: Alabama, Kentucky, Nevada, and Texas. Together, these states will use their funding to connect over 292,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.
The Federal Communications Commission proposed rules to help ensure that the public has access to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline if a service outage occurs.
The Federal Communications Commission approved several proposals for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to make it easier for healthcare providers to receive support, reduce delays in funding commitments, and improve the program's overall efficiency. Reliable high-speed connectivity is critical for rural healthcare providers to serve patients in rural areas that often have limited resources, fewer doctors, and higher rates for broadband and telecommunications services than urban areas.
New Federal Communications Commission maps that measure broadband access, and new American Community Survey data that measure adoption, show that only 64.4% of rural American households have access to broadband at 100/20 throughput. Most, 58.8%, subscribe to broadband, a gap of less than 6 percentage points. Even with new FCC maps, 98.5% of urban households have access to broadband, but only 73% subscribe.
Social media companies need to further enhance transparency around the content moderation requests that they receive from governments to better safeguard users’ speech online, according to Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), who has focused on tech-related policy issues during her time in office. Sen. Lummis—who serves on the influential Senate Commerce Committee—said that it is “an unprecedented time in history” for freedom of speech and the manner in which governments regulate public discourse, particularly “the real-time failures of government when it comes to interacting with companies that