Broadband & Democracy
Technology is a tool, a tool that can be used, if distributed equitably, to improve society. At the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, we are not for broadband just for broadband’s sake. In the "Broadband & Society" part of our name, we recognize that in our increasingly digital lives, equitable access to broadband and a just society are inseparable. Broadband's potential, its promise, is not just quicker communication, but improving education, healthcare, job training and acquisition, economic development, delivering government services, and so much more.
Affordability and the Digital Divide
Understanding affordability of internet service and its role in adoption are crucial for developing solutions to close the digital divide.The goals of this study were first to understand the barriers to connectivity and efficacy of low-cost internet service options; and second, to use the findings to inform digital inclusion policies, advocacy efforts, and other initiatives that aim to drive digital equity. The findings were informed by a national survey on broadband adoption among low- and lower-middle income households.
An Evolving Level of Service
How will the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act impact universal service policy and, specifically, the Lifeline program? The new law sets up a transition from the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a program that is only six months old, to the new, more permanent Affordable Connectivity Program.
The Era of the Broadband Public-Private Partnership
A remarkable wave of public-private collaboration in broadband is underway—a wave that began in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely reach a crest in the next few years as many tens of billions of dollars of public and private capital are invested in next-generation broadband. COVID-19 demonstrated to American policymakers the absolute need for plentiful connectivity and the crises faced by those who don’t have it—and simultaneously demonstrated to private investors the economic potential of best-in-class, future-proof broadband.
Six-City Digital Equity Action Research Fellowship Launches
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Community Informatics Lab at Simmons University, and Black Brilliance Research Project (BBR) launched the six-city Digital Equity Action Research (DEAR) Fellowship. The DEAR Fellowship is a participatory action research program for young adults, ages 19-24, that helps examine how digital inclusion coalitions understand and address the root causes of digital inequities in their communities. The fellowship started in November 2021 and will conclude with a celebration and community event in mid-January 2022.
USDA Prime Broadband
Last week, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that on November 24, USDA will begin accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas. USDA's Rural Utilities Service is making the funding available through the ReConnect Program and plans to make ava
The Future of American Farming Demands Broadband
How can we deliver the broadband that farmers need? To many farmers, the definition of sustainability incorporates the economic, environmental, and social impacts of agriculture—a “triple bottom line.” Farmers think about the profitability of their operations, not just to sustain the farm from year to year but from generation to generation. Practices that make a small difference in profit margin can have a major impact over the long term. Farmers also consider how to maintain and improve the environmental conditions of their land, such as soil health, long into the future.
Action Needed Now to Preserve an Essential Lifeline During the Pandemic
Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to essential communications services, like phones and broadband. You may not have heard much about it, but a universal service crisis is right around the corner. Due to Federal Communications Commission inaction, nearly 800,000 people could lose phone service on December 1. On that day, changes in the FCC’s Lifeline program, which provides a modest monthly discount for communications services, mean that voice-only services like a home landline telephone and/or a cellphone will no longer be eligible for the discount.
First Awards Distributed Under Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan Programs
The US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration has begun awarding its historic $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. EDA awarded $24 million in grants to states and territories across the nation for statewide planning efforts to boost economic development, enhance US competitiveness, combat the climate crisis, and recover from the pandemic. EDA will fun