There is a major digital divide on the Texas-Mexico border, one of least connected parts of the country
The Texas-Mexico border is one of the least connected in the US. A map from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows border counties bathed in bright red, meaning less than around 60 percent have home internet access. It’s a distinction shared by the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, other parts of the country with pernicious poverty. But that may change. The small city of Pharr, Texas — just a handful of miles from the border — is trying to make a change, and end the kind of disconnectedness that plagues low-income border communities.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai stopped in Quincy, Florida, as part of a campaign to promote high-speed internet and close the digital divide in rural areas. “I want to illustrate the power of the internet to transform communities and the cost of not getting internet access to some of these communities,” Chairman Pai told business, school and economic development officials gathered at the Quincy site for TDS Telecom, a national internet provider with more than 13,000 Gadsden County customers. He said the digital divide is more prevalent in rural areas.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement after the Universal Service Administrative Company’s announcement that the budget control mechanism adopted in 2016 will cut universal service support for small, rural carriers by 15.52% over the course of the next year:
A sizeable portion of the nearly 100 million users who have come online through Internet.org live in Myanmar, where Facebook partnered with local telecommunication company Myanma Posts and Telecommunications for the program in mid-2016. Facebook went on to serve as an accelerant to violence and ethnic cleansing-related hate speech. Cost-free access to Facebook’s services has seen Facebook’s own user base in the country skyrocket from two million in 2014 to 30 million in 2017.
Delaware is a national leader in broadband adoption and speed. However, the state is not resting on its laurels, and the chief information officer has a plan to bring broadband connectivity to rural areas using high-speed wireless technologies. “My hope is in the next 24 months, we’re going to eradicate this rural broadband issue,” said James Collins, state chief information officer. “We’ve made a conscious decision that we don’t think it’s the government’s business to be in competition with the private sector as it relates to broadband and other things,” Collins explained.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai swung through New Orleans on to brief local technology sector leaders on how the city and Louisiana stand to benefit from what he called the "light-touch regulatory approach" in the era of President Donald Trump. Chairman Pai was joined by US Rep Steve Scalise (R-LA), who reiterated that he's a "strong supporter" of Pai's push to end rules governing net neutrality. Few specifics were given about what was discussed during the closed-door meeting with Chairman Pai and Rep Scalise.
Sens Klobuchar, Wicker Bipartisan Bill to Promote Precision Agriculture, Rural Broadband Passes Senate Commerce Committee
Sens Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) announced the passage of their legislation, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a task force to identify gaps in broadband connectivity for the nation’s cropland and ranchland. The measure also instructs the agency to develop ways to help encourage broadband adoption and precision agriculture in areas where it is currently unavailable.
Even as Americans view the internet’s personal impact in a positive light, they have grown somewhat more ambivalent about the impact of digital connectivity on society as a whole. A sizable majority of online adults (70%) continue to believe the internet has been a good thing for society. Yet the share of online adults saying this has declined by a modest but still significant 6 percentage points since early 2014. This is balanced by a corresponding increase (from 8% to 14%) in the share of online adults who say the internet’s societal impact is a mix of good and bad.
Catherine Moyer, CEO of the nonprofit Pioneer Communications in Ulysses (KS) said network neutrality hadn’t thwarted her company’s infrastructure spending. Rather, she said the broadband investment drop in 2015 was likely due to uncertainty about internet infrastructure subsidies. Moyer said now that net neutrality rules have gone away, there’s a chance to bargain with Netflix and other companies looking to spare their customers the purgatory of buffering. More than half of Pioneer’s traffic is now streaming video. Netflix alone accounts for 42 percent.
Big business is quietly trouncing cities in the fight over the future of the internet. The results of an obscure, bureaucratic battle inside the U.S. communications regulator could decide not only which Americans get ultra-fast internet but how much it’ll cost and even what city streetlights will look like.