Today, the Federal Communications Commission published its 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, claiming that “the nation’s digital divide is narrowing.” Public Knowledge contends that this finding rings hollow with unserved and underserved Americans.
The Federal Communications Commission is required by law (under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) to initiate a notice of inquiry and report annually on whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. This annual broadband report is incredibly important because the findings and conclusions are designed to help Congress and the FCC develop policies that ensure all Americans have robust broadband access. Reports with inaccurate data on broadband availability can skew the findings and prevent unserved and underserved areas from gaining access to broadband. The public has not yet seen the draft 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, but the FCC published a news release about the key findings.
Today, Senator Murray (D-WA) introduced the “Digital Equity Act of 2019” to help close the digital divide by improving digital inclusion among groups that have historically lacked broadband access. The bill would enable these communities to access the technologies and digital literacy programs essential to using broadband internet today.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission circulated a proposal to consider implementing a cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF), the federal government’s primary tool to help close the digital divide by funding broadband access and deployment in rural communities, affordable broadband for low-income families, and affordable connectivity for schools and libraries. Public Knowledge opposes capping the USF because it may hinder the FCC’s ability to fulfill its universal service mandate.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission adopted its first ever Communications Marketplace Report. The Report complies with new congressional requirements to streamline the Commission’s various communications reports into a comprehensive, consolidated review of the state of the communications ecosystem.