Focusing on Affordability
With a proposal to spend $100 billion to ensure that all Americans have affordable and reliable internet service, the Biden Administration has made closing the digital divide a huge priority. Much remains to be done to fill in the specifics of what this means, but two types of policy tools come to mind when thinking about how to address the digital divide. Top of mind is promoting competition. Fostering competition means investing in new infrastructure, thereby giving consumers more choice for very high-speed service.
The Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion
Ten years ago, the National Broadband Plan observed that as “more aspects of daily life move online and offline alternatives disappear, the range of choices available to people without broadband narrows. Digital exclusion compounds inequities for historically marginalized groups.” In light of these trends, that plan warned “the cost of digital exclusion is large and growing.” Unfortunately, only modest efforts to address those costs have been expended in the last decade. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates a shift to “remote everything,” the costs of exclusion have grown even larger.
The American Jobs Plan
The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. Specifically, President Biden’s plan will:
What Will the FCC Do Next with Lifeline?
What constitutes a lifeline in 2021? Is it a phone? A smartphone? A fixed-location broadband connection? Or some combination of all these services?
States Look at the Data as They Try to Address the Digital Divide
Policymakers and other stakeholders are becoming more aware of the hazards of assuming everyone has online access. Many are interested in understanding the places where online access may be lower than the norm and the population groups that may have limited or no access to the internet. Recent work I have done sheds light on some of these issues.
American Rescue Plan: Broadband and the Social Safety Net
On March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, the latest effort to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: From Here to Launch in 60 Days
On March 4, we got a tad bit more information about the timeline of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program—at least for the companies that are interested in providing the discounted broadband services. Broadband internet access service providers that have previously participated in federal assistance programs (these companies are known in wonkspeak as eligible telecommunications carriers or ETCs), can begin to let USAC know if they will participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Progr
Introducing the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
In its efforts to help people deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress created the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in late 2020. The Federal Communications Commission will run the program, starting it in Spring 2021. The program offers discounts off of people's monthly internet access bills to help connect households that find it hard to afford broadband service. Households can also get discounts on a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer. Broadband providers will receive up to $50/month for providing service to low-income households ($75/month if the household is on Tribal Land).
Data Analytics Can Improve How We Design Broadband Strategies
Internet access is essential for economic development and helping to deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially as even basic broadband can revolutionize the opportunities available to users. Yet, more than one billion people globally still live in areas without internet connectivity. Governments must make strategic choices to connect these citizens, but currently have few independent, transparent, and scientifically reproducible tools to rely on.
On 25th Anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Sen Markey and Rep Eshoo Reintroduce National Broadband Plan for the Future Act
Sen Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) reintroduced of the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, legislation that instructs the Federal Communications Commission to update the National Broadband Plan and develop an updated roadmap for achieving universal connectivity. The introduction coincides with tomorrow’s 25th anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which catalyzed the market competition and broadband deployment that has transformed American life in the 21st century.