Universal Broadband

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Welcomes New Director of Research and Fellowships

Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss announced the appointment of Dr. Revati Prasad as the Benton Institute's new Director of Research and Fellowships. Revati will recruit and manage a diverse cohort of fellows—researchers, advocates, and practitioners—and their projects supported by the newly created Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund. In addition, Dr.

Broadband's Role in Equity Action Plans

On President Biden's first day in office, he signed the Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The January 20, 2021 order states that the federal government must pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all.

Three Data Points to Help Plan for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Broadband Funding

As policymakers begin to plan how to use Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds to increase broadband connectivity, there are three important data points from two recent surveys to keep in mind:

  1. Some 32% of households are subscription vulnerable, that is, they struggle to maintain service and have a very difficult time affording service.
  2. Only 18% of cellphone-only respondents were “very satisfied” with their online access for activities such as school or work, activities that moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress Provides More Money for Rural Broadband Deployment

On March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 which provides funding through September 30, 2022 for projects and activities of the Federal Government. Much of the coverage of the law highlights the $13.6 billion in funding to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact on surrounding countries. But there's also more funding for broadband in the new law.

It is Time to Reimagine Lifeline

Low-income households are spending too much on connectivity. Prior to the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program supported mainly wireless communication services for low-income households; its $9.25/month subsidy resulting in service plans that restricted voice and data usage. To address Americans’ online connectivity needs during the pandemic, Congress directed the FCC to launch the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program—a historic expansion of financial support for universal service.

Bonds, Broadband Bonds

February 4 was the deadline for written public input on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act broadband programs that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will administer. Much attention is rightly being paid to the many billions of dollars NTIA will distribute to states in the coming months to ensure broadband networks reach everyone in America. However, there's been less attention given to a provision in the new law creating a new vehicle for broadband deployment: private activity bonds.

What's Next for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

As Congress found in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to full participation in modern life in the United States. The aim of the Affordable Connectivity Program is to ensure broadband is affordable for any household no matter its income. Although the Federal Communications Commission has met an incredibly tight timeline to adopt rules and launch the new Affordable Connectivity Program, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Here's a quick look at what remains on the FCC's agenda.

Introducing the Affordable Connectivity Program

Congress created the Affordable Connectivity Program through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, building on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program created earlier in 2021. For the EBB Program, Congress provided the Federal Communications Commission with $3.2 billion to make monthly broadband service bills more affordable for low-income households. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act adds an additional $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program, while leaving in place the EBB Program's basic framework.

Rosenworcel & Davidson: With Leadership in Place, NTIA and FCC Must Now Work Together to Close the Digital Divide

On January 11, the U.S. Senate voted 60-31 to confirm the nomination of Alan Davidson to be the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. Once sworn in, Davidson will lead the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is President Joe Biden's principal adviser on telecommunications and information policy.

Your Chance to Weigh in on the Future of the Universal Service Fund

In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the largest U.S. investment ever in broadband access, affordability, and adoption. With $65 billion flowing to broadband, Congress also asked the Federal Communications Commission to determine what impact the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will have in achieving universal service goals for broadband. This week, the FCC launched a proceeding seeking public comment on how to best make sure everyone in the U.S. can use broadband.