FCC advisory committee adopts report on strategies for preventing digital discrimination by internet providers and recommendations for promoting digital equity
Washington, DC. (November 8, 2022) – The Communications Equity and Diversity Council (CEDC), a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) advisory committee, voted unanimously yesterday to adopt a report containing recommendations and best practices to prevent digital discrimination by internet service providers (ISPs) and promote digital equity.
The report provides recommendations to the FCC on public policies, programs, and other strategic initiatives to “advance the equity in the process of and access to digital communications services and products for all people,” which is consistent with the goals of the CEDC.
“The CEDC was tasked by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to make recommendations on strategies for states and localities to prevent digital discrimination and to advance digital equity. This request was in response to a provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that requires the FCC to do this,” said Heather Gate, VP of Digital Inclusion for Connected Nation and Chair of the CEDC. “I applaud the chairwoman for trusting the council to contribute to the commission’s efforts to gather information from diverse stakeholders across the country. I also applaud CEDC members for their commitment to this process for the last 10 months, and for coming together with a common mission of ensuring equitable access to broadband for all people in the United States.”
The CEDC is composed of diverse stakeholders representing the telecommunications industry, public interest groups, nonprofits, associations, and small, minority-owned, and woman-owned media. The council voted to approve the final report before it was officially sent to Rosenworcel.
“As many jobs, schools, and healthcare in recent years shifted to online environments, the need to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity across the country was amplified. And through these shifts, we saw the challenges Americans from unserved and underserved communities face in accessing high-speed internet to meet their basic needs,” said Rosenworcel in a statement issued after the report was released. “Last year, I expanded the mission of the Communications Equity and Diversity Council to look beyond traditional media, but across all technology, to further align with the Commission’s aggressive digital equity agenda. Tackling digital discrimination will help to make sure that all have access to this infrastructure we all need for success.”
The report is divided into the recommendations and best practices developed by three working groups, each with a different focus area. The working groups are: Diversity and Equity (D&E), Innovation and Access (I&A), and Digital Empowerment and Inclusion (DEI). The report also includes 13 key recommendations for states and localities in support of digital equity.
The DEI section includes a series of recommendations to prevent digital discrimination by providers. These recommendations for states and localities include:
- Develop, implement, and make publicly available periodic broadband equity assessments in partnership with ISPs, the community, and other local stakeholders.
- Facilitate greater awareness and information sharing among multi-dwelling unit owners regarding tenant choice and competition considering broadband service agreements.
- Identify local opportunities that could be used to incentivize equitable deployment.
- Engage, where permissible under state and federal law, in the management of public property, such as public rights-of-way, to avert discriminatory behaviors that result in or sustain digital discrimination and redlining.
- Convene regular meetings of broadband providers and other stakeholders, including community anchor institutions, public interest groups, community advocates, labor organizations, and faith-based institutions, to evaluate areas and households unserved or underserved with competitive and quality broadband options.
In addition, the I&A working group provided recommendations for closing the opportunity gaps for minority- and women-owned businesses, while the D&E working group looked at a framework for advancing equity and inclusion among all populations, including those not necessarily categorized as federal protected such as “those bound by age, economic limitations, access to local digital upskilling tools, language proficiency, sexual orientation … and disability.”
Head to this link to read the full report and explore additional recommendations and best practices designed to help both state and federal leaders improve digital equity and prevent digital discrimination.
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About Connected Nation: Connected Nation celebrated 20 years of service in 2021. The national nonprofit’s mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
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