Low-income

The Last Broadband Gifts From the 116th Congress

With great drama, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 became law on December 27, 2021. The $2.3 trillion COVID relief and government spending bill extended unemployment benefits and ensured the government can keep running. The $900 billion COVID relief provision includes over $7 billion to help improve connectivity in the U.S.

Creating (Finally) an Emergency Broadband Benefit

More than nine months after the national COVID-19 emergency was declared, Congress has directed the Federal Communications Commission to create an emergency broadband benefit, a monthly discount on broadband internet access service for low-income people. On January 4, the FCC released a Public Notice asking for comment on how to best implement this new program which Congress expects to be up and running in the next two months. Here's a look at what the FCC is asking.

FCC Seeks Public Input On New $3.2 Billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Consolidated Appropriations Act or Act). Section 904 of Division N – Additional Coronavirus Response and Relief, Title IX – Broadband Internet Access Service, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act establishes an Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund of $3.2 billion and directs the Federal Communications Commission to use that fund to establish an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, under which eligible households may receive a discount off the cost of broadband service and certain connected devi

Make broadband far more affordable

We urge Congress to establish a broadband credit — call it America’s Broadband Credit — to ensure many more people can afford high-speed Internet access. Congress could set a household subsidy of $50 per month, which is roughly the cost of medium-tier broadband plans in urban settings (and it could provide a higher subsidy for tribal lands). That subsidy would allow anyone and any device in the household to be connected to the Internet, simultaneously, which is how so many families today are operating.

The Internet is Not Working for Everyone

We're all obviously aware of the unprecedented National Emergency President Donald Trump declared on March 13, 2020 and the shelter-at-home orders many have lived under in the last few months. Telework, telehealth, and distance education have all boomed during this time, testing residential broadband networks like never before. Back in the early weeks of the crisis, assessments based on data from broadband providers themselves and third-party internet traffic monitors led one policymaker to declare that surges in Internet traffic are well within the capacity of U.S.

A First for Digital Equity and Broadband Adoption

The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing entitled Empowering and Connecting Communities Through Digital Equity and Internet Adoption.

Digital Equity and Broadband Adoption

Current research suggests that low-income people can only afford to pay about $10  monthly for broadband. Anything more competes with other utility bills and the cost of food. Meeting the goal of universal connectivity and providing fixed broadband at about $10 per month requires a multi-pronged strategy - what my Benton colleague Jonathan Sallet calls an “Affordability Agenda.” It includes:

From Networks to People

Broadband’s fundamental value doesn’t come from connecting computers to networks; its value comes from connecting people to opportunity, and society to new solutions. When a broadband network is available but a person who wants to use it can’t do so, then the network is less valuable to everyone else who does use it. That's because the he benefits of broadband adoption do not flow only to the people who are new broadband users. Expanding broadband usage can grow the U.S. economy broadly. Expanding broadband usage, furthering civic engagement, can build stronger democratic institutions.

Building Blocks for a National Broadband Agenda

In the next decade, everyone in America should be able to use High-Performance Broadband.

The Ability to Pay for Broadband

According to recent National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) survey data, roughly 28 million households in the United States still do not use the Internet at home (Goldberg, 2019). In its survey, the NTIA also asked why households did not use the Internet at home, with 58 percent citing a lack of interest as their main reason for being offline and every fifth household (21%) stating that it is too expensive.