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How to Close the Digital Divide in the US

The US government is negotiating a plan to address one of the most important—but overlooked—problems facing the country: the digital divide. While this problem is often talked about as a simple problem of access to broadband internet service, it is deeper and more complex than mere infrastructure. In truth, the digital divide also is a problem of inclusivity, institutions, and individual proficiency, and a solution needs to address all four dimensions. To close the digital divide, policymakers should:

Rep Castor Introduces the 21st Century FTC Act

Rep Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the 21st Century FTC Act, legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking authority and first offense civil penalty authority. “For too long, the FTC has been hamstrung in its ability to promulgate effective rules of the road for consumers and penalize companies that harm our friends and neighbors," stated Castor.

Advocacy Groups Press Congress for Faster Future-Proof Broadband

NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fiber Broadband Association, INCOMPAS, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Public Knowledge released a statement urging Congress to take bold action on broadband infrastructure. “Better, faster broadband for all is a national priority for students, families, and small businesses across America’s rural communities and urban neighborhoods," the statement reads.

House Committee Approves $43 Billion Rural Broadband Bill

The House Agriculture Committee approved a bill (HR.4374) to provide $43 billion over eight years to bring broadband service to hundreds of thousands of families and businesses that lack access. The bulk of the money, $36 billion, would go to loans, grants, and loan guarantees for the construction or improvement of internet service in small towns and rural areas with poor or no service.

Net neutrality battle looms

The Biden administration is gearing up for a showdown with cable and telecommunication companies over plans to bring back Obama-era net neutrality rules.

High-Speed Internet Is Essential For All Counties

The National Association of Counties' Broadband Task Force was chartered with the premise that "if you can't connect… you can't compete." It is the equity issue of our hour. After months of study and dialogue, our Task Force concluded that a comprehensive, coordinated approach is needed to pursue new broadband infrastructure investment, public policies, and user skills.

FCC Gets Federal Direction on Handling Bogus, Mass Comments

The Administrative Conference of the US (ACUS) has recommended federal agencies take a number of steps to address the issues of mass computer generated and falsely attributed comments. In this case, it is recommending that agencies like the Federal Communications Commission, who must give members of the public the opportunity to weigh in on proposed rules for the agency's consideration, find better ways to manage what can be a flood of comments in the digital age. Among the recommendations are calls for agencies to "welcome" the filing of mass, "identical or substantively identical" comment

Biden's call to restore net neutrality: What you should know

President Joe Biden wants net neutrality regulations back on the books. In his executive order on competition, Biden urged the Federal Communications Commission to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules and to take other measures to promote broadband competition, including asking the FCC to require broadband companies to provide transparency on pricing. Net neutrality supporters applauded the executive order and calls for the FCC to restore net neutrality protections.

Wu Weighs in on Executive Order on Competition

Tim Wu, President Joe Biden’s competition adviser on the National Economic Council, said “There is a growing sense that the forms of market power we see today are often different from the ones that the merger guidelines had in mind.

Lawmakers to Determine Fate of Infrastructure, Antipoverty Plans

Democrats are racing to finalize a bipartisan infrastructure deal and set the contours of a broad child-care and education plan, aiming to maintain a delicate agreement with Republicans while simultaneously plowing forward with their own priorities. After a two-week recess, senators return to Washington this week to determine the fate of much of President Biden’s roughly $4 trillion agenda.