Reports that employ attempts to inform communications policymaking in a systematically and scientific manner.
COVID-19 has turned the floodlights on digital inequality in rural, tribal, and urban communities across the United States.
In October 2019, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society issued Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s. The agenda was comprehensive, constructed upon achievements in communities and insights from experts across the nation. The report outlined the key building blocks of broadband policy—deployment, competition, community anchor institutions, and digital equity (including affordability and adoption).
How can America’s communities secure the benefits of fiber-optic infrastructure? Our answer is that local governments need not accept a binary option of waiting for the private sector to solve the problem—which the private sector already would have done if it made business sense—or taking on the challenge entirely as a public enterprise. Rather, public-private collaboration can disrupt this binary and give communities options.
The Federal Communications is charged with “encourag[ing] the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans . . . by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.” Available evidence demonstrates that the digital divide continues to narrow as more Americans than ever before have access to high-speed broadband.
The purpose of Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s is to collect, combine, and contribute to a national broadband agenda for the next decade, enlisting the voices of broadband leaders in an ongoing discussion on how public policy can close the digital divide and extend digital opportunity everywhere. Leaders at all levels of government should ensure that everyone is able to use High-Performance Broadband in the next decade by embracing the following building blocks of policy:
Measuring broadband is an ongoing challenge for policymakers and, for many participants in broadband policy debates, often a source of frustration. The frustration about broadband measurement emanates from what seems knowable – at least it is about other infrastructure. We know where our roads and highways run. Today it is easy to know when they are clogged, where there are tolls, and how much those tolls cost. Electric infrastructure is essentially ubiquitous and it isn’t hard, in most places, to find out the cost of a kilowatt hour and compare prices among providers.
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.
Challenges Providing Services to K-12 English Learners and Students with Disabilities during COVID-19
GAO reviewed distance learning plans from a nongeneralizable group of 15 school districts, selected for their high proportion of either English learners or students with disabilities.
Increasing access to the internet and improving the affordability of broadband services has been a long-standing priority for governors; more than twenty states now have dedicated broadband offices to address the digital divide while more have robust governance structures that include task forces, working groups, and committees.
This report profiles the many innovative options that school districts have pioneered to build or extend wireless broadband connectivity out to student households that cannot afford to purchase high-speed internet access at home.