Read “Bridging the Digital Divide”, a report released by the Broadband Task Force in February 2022, detailing recommendations for state and local policy solutions to tackle broadband needs and inequities with new federal funds.
Amid the many changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to virtual schooling, remote work, and telemedicine made it clear: equitable access to the Internet is essential. The Broadband Task Force will work to identify major obstacles limiting access to high-speed internet, develop state and local solutions, and advocate for a strong federal-state-local partnership. Equity will be a cornerstone of the Task Force’s work, recognizing the disturbingly high lack of internet access among certain communities, including for people of color. A recent study by the Alliance for Excellent Education found 1 in 3 Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students do not have high-speed home internet access.
Chaired by Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, San Jose, CA Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Florida State Senator Loranne Ausley, the group will bring together state and local officials with policy experts and partners from the non-profit and private sectors. The Task Force plans to convene monthly for in-depth conversations on closing the digital divide and to highlight effective efforts in communities across the country. The co-chairs will release guidance for state and local leaders based on these discussions and the work of participating public officials and partners. Read an op-ed in StateScoop from co-chairs San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Florida Senator Loranne Ausley for details on why this work is so important, and how the group will help. Check out other press hits from the group’s launch for more on how the task force will help drive solutions to close the digital divide highlighted by the pandemic and the shift to remote work and school, including articles from Route Fifty, StateScoop, and Communications Daily.
In 2021, the Task Force submitted a letter to the United States Treasury, offering feedback on the Interim Final Rule governing the use of American Rescue Plan recovery funds. Read the letter, signed by the group’s three co-chairs, for details on how the rule could be improved to allow for more investment in the high-speed Internet access that so many still lack.
In 2022, the Task Force published “Bridging the Digital Divide: Policy Proposals to Increase Broadband Access for All”, a report on five aspects of the problem of connectivity, as well as numerous state and local solutions that are already working across the nation. Read the report now for recommendations on how to improve mapping and data collection, build new broadband networks, innovate to address affordability and adoption, promote digital skills, and increase access through telehealth.