The Digital Equity Act is bipartisan, actionable, and can help close the Digital Divide for the most vulnerable Americans
Bowling Green, Ky. (June 15, 2021) – Connected Nation applauds the hard work of Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Angus King (I-ME) to bring forth the Digital Equity Act which is squarely focused on expanding digital inclusion across the US.
“Connected Nation is endorsing this Act because it seeks to help our nation’s most vulnerable populations finally access resources that can help improve their lives,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, Connected Nation. “Our organization has worked for 20 years toward closing the Digital Divide, and we have witnessed firsthand the positive impact access to this technology can have in communities. What the pandemic has done is create a new understanding for others— including our local, state, and federal leaders—that this technology is critical for all Americans.”
The Digital Equity Act would create two major Federal grant programs operated by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). It would provide $1 billion in federal grant funding over the next five years to support digital inclusion—including the creation of statewide comprehensive digital equity plans, spurring targeted action through a competitive grant process to support digital equity projects, and supporting research and evidence-based policymaking.
“The importance of programs that advance broadband adoption for disadvantaged rural and urban populations cannot be overstated," said Heather Gate, Vice President of Digital Inclusion, Connected Nation. “In additional to tackling issues related to access to infrastructure, it is imperative that we ensure that everyone can fully participate in our society democracy, and economy using digital skills and the necessary tools. We have a saying here,” Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation,” and what we mean by that is no one should be left out of the opportunities and resources having broadband access provides no matter how they begin or where they live. The Digital Equity Act seeks to address this issue for vulnerable populations in a targeted way.”
Data has consistently indicated that low-income, rural and urban communities, and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the Digital Divide. In announcing the bill initially introduced in 2019 and reintroduced last week, Senator Murray cited the 2019 US census data that indicated that about 36 million U.S. households did not subscribe to a wired broadband service. Additionally, other studies showed that 43% of low-income adults did not subscribe to home broadband and one in three Black, Latino and Native American families did not subscribe to high-speed internet at home
The Digital Equity Act is also endorsed by more than 100 organizations including the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) which has developed a resource page. It can be found here: https://www.digitalequityact.org/.
43% low-income families do not have a home broadband subscription –Pew Research
One in three Black, Latino and Native American families did not subscribe to high-speed internet at home – Futureready
17.24% of rural residents do not have access to 25x3 (high-speed internet as defined by the FCC; also called broadband) – FCC data
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About Us: Connected Nation is celebrating 20 years of service in 2021. Our 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. For more information, please visit: connectednation.org and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.