Coverage of how Internet service is deployed, used and regulated.
On March 4, we got a tad bit more information about the timeline of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program—at least for the companies that are interested in providing the discounted broadband services. Broadband internet access service providers that have previously participated in federal assistance programs (these companies are known in wonkspeak as eligible telecommunications carriers or ETCs), can begin to let USAC know if they will participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Progr
In its efforts to help people deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress created the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in late 2020. The Federal Communications Commission will run the program, starting it in Spring 2021. The program offers discounts off of people's monthly internet access bills to help connect households that find it hard to afford broadband service. Households can also get discounts on a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer. Broadband providers will receive up to $50/month for providing service to low-income households ($75/month if the household is on Tribal Land).
The Department of the Treasury provides guidance regarding the requirements of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act provides that ERA funds may be used for “other expenses related to housing incurred due, directly or indirectly, to” the COVID-19 outbreak, as defined by the Secretary. What are some examples of these “other expenses”? The Act requires that other expenses must be related to housing and be incurred due directly or indirectly due to COVID-19.
On February 17, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on COVID-19's impact on the digital divide and the homework gap. There was bipartisan agreement on the importance of expanding broadband access. Democrats focused more on affordability issues, especially during the pandemic, as well as improving data on where broadband is available and where it isn't. Republicans mostly extolled deregulation as a way to encourage rural broadband deployment and the need to streamline wireless infrastructure to facilitate buildout of the next generation of wireless, 5G.
Internet access is essential for economic development and helping to deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially as even basic broadband can revolutionize the opportunities available to users. Yet, more than one billion people globally still live in areas without internet connectivity. Governments must make strategic choices to connect these citizens, but currently have few independent, transparent, and scientifically reproducible tools to rely on.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the digital divide on policymakers’ agenda like never before. It is challenging them to find solutions that meet the urgency of the crisis while building a foundation for sustainable progress over time. This means that policymakers will want to build on lessons learned and explore new approaches. In contemplating these and other ideas, policymakers may want to look at analysis of broadband adoption barriers – the more reliable the better.
Lacking a Lifeline: How a federal effort to help low-income Americans pay their phone bills failed amid the pandemic
The coronavirus has reinforced the Internet as the fabric of modern American life, a luxury-turned-necessity for a generation now forced to work, learn and communicate primarily through the Web. But it also has laid bare the country’s inequalities — and the role Washington has played in exacerbating these long-known divides.
On 25th Anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Sen Markey and Rep Eshoo Reintroduce National Broadband Plan for the Future Act
Sen Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) reintroduced of the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, legislation that instructs the Federal Communications Commission to update the National Broadband Plan and develop an updated roadmap for achieving universal connectivity. The introduction coincides with tomorrow’s 25th anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which catalyzed the market competition and broadband deployment that has transformed American life in the 21st century.
A key goal for President Joe Biden is to expand broadband access to everyone in America. Since at least November, he's been laying the groundwork with Congressional Democrats to increase federal broadband spending to improve both access and affordability so people stay online during the pandemic in the short term — and to help rebuild the nation's economy going forward. Key panels in each chamber of Congress will likely play an important role in shaping any legislative efforts.
In order to achieve the goal of universal broadband for everyone in Illinois, broadband must be available and affordable. However, home broadband service is out of reach for many low-income households in Illinois that are unable to afford subscriptions. Therefore, efforts to promote universal broadband should include programs that offer access to affordable broadband service, as well as access to low-cost digital devices and digital literacy training, which have been highlighted as necessary to promote digital inclusion and meaningful broadband adoption.