What's New in Digital Equity: White House Shares Internet Rollout Timeline

What’s New in Digital Equity: White House Shares Internet Rollout Timeline

This week in ‘What’s New in Digital Equity’ – our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news – we have a number of interesting articles, which you can access with the links below – below:


This morning, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the November 18 release date for the long-awaited broadband cards, adhering to the schedule assured by the FCC Chairman. Historically, FCC maps were based on data at the census block level rather than at the location level, which created the need for more accurate and granular maps. This release, a pre-production project, marks the first version of the card required by the Broadband DATA Act.

The data for this map was collected from providers during the initial broadband data collection submission window. It will therefore display location-level information on broadband availability as of June 30, 2022. Provider availability data has been matched with location information from the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric. , a common dataset of locations in the United States where broadband service is used or may be installed.

This draft marks the start of an iterative process to create a map that accurately reflects service availability. The FCC will accept mass disputes from state and tribal governments and other entities, as well as disputes from individuals. The idea is that the map will continually improve through these challenges. For example, New York State recently submitted information as part of the broadband data collection challenge process.

Following the FCC’s announcement this morning, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has set an expected date of June 30, 2023 for the sharing of equity allocation levels, broadband access and deployment to eligible entities.

“The FCC’s upcoming challenge process is one of the best chances to ensure we have clear maps guiding us as we award the major Internet-for-All prizes in 2023,” said Alan Davidson, deputy secretary at the Commerce for Communications and Information in the NTIA announcement, urging states and communities to participate in the process.

To help state broadband officials identify issues and prepare for challenges, NTIA will provide regular engagement and technical assistants. In addition, the NTIA will offer public information webinars to increase attendance over the next eight weeks, a time that Davidson describes as “critical” for federal connection efforts. (Julia Edinger)


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) partners with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans get online.

The way the two organizations hope to achieve this is by helping veterans enroll in the Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. Through this new partnership, the two organizations will enable automatic verification of eligibility for all veterans receiving retirement benefits. Essentially, this means that any veteran receiving a pension will also be automatically verified and notified afterwards that they are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program. They will not need to provide any additional information.

Both of these programs aim to make high-speed Internet connections more affordable. The Lifeline program offers a monthly rebate of up to $9.25 for Internet, as well as up to $34.25 for eligible households on tribal lands. The Affordable Connectivity Program offers a separate monthly rebate of up to $30 per month for internet service, with $75 per month for households on eligible tribal lands.

To date, the Affordable Connectivity program has served approximately 15 million people. (Zack Quiintance)


Media and technology company Comcast announced an investment of more than $500,000 to support digital inclusion. The funding will be distributed as grants to 17 organizations to support laptop distribution, digital literacy training, and digital navigation programs throughout the greater Boston area.

The investment is part of Project UP, the company’s $1 billion commitment to advancing digital equity. Three of the recipient organizations – Tech Goes Home, Central Boston Elder Services and One Bead – will use the funds to create digital navigators to help train community members in digital literacy. The digital navigator model is one that has been commonly adopted in digital inclusion training. The other 14 nonprofits will use the grants in a variety of ways to support digital equity efforts. (Julia Edinger)


A new article from The Pew Charitable Trusts details how officials can work to make broadband a priority as they play a part in developing affordable rental housing.

At the heart of the guidance are incentives in federal low-income housing tax credits, particularly insofar as they could be applied to housing units that are not funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Development. Urban development. The incentives, the article notes, actually date back to 1986 and the launch of the low-income housing tax credit.

When the credit was created it was not intended to apply to broadband, for obvious reasons, but there is now some overlap in how eligibility is determined. The article digs deeper into this topic and can be read in full on The Pew Charitable Trusts website. (Zack Quiintance)


Last week, state and local leaders announced the completion of an $8.3 million broadband expansion in Hampton County, SC that connects more than 2,000 homes and businesses to high internet. debit. The expansion is made possible through a partnership between Comcast and the state, and other communities are expected to benefit from this partnership in the future. This work is also part of Comcast’s Project UP initiative.

“Throughout South Carolina, public and private funds are working together to make high-speed internet both accessible and affordable for everyone,” US Congressman James E. Clyburn said in the announcement.

Comcast is also making Affordable Connectivity Program credits available to eligible residents. (Julia Edinger)


The United States Bureau of Land Management has proposed updates to its regulations for building and operating broadband infrastructure on public lands, and these updates are intended to strengthen accessibility.

The proposed rule changes were released this week, meaning a public comment period will run until January 6. The rule changes are clearly aimed at making it easier for broadband providers to build new infrastructure on public land. Additionally, the changes have an element that would address wildlife hazards to and from power lines in spaces overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Finally, part of this is also a proposed update to the office’s fee schedule and processing of right-of-way permits, as well as its requirements for right-of-way maintenance plans.

This may all sound dry, but right-of-way approval and maintenance can be crucial for effective connectivity. To put into context the scope of the lands involved here, it is important to note that the Bureau of Land Management has approximately 1,500 communication sites on the lands it manages, many of which are towers for cellular services and wireless. The office also manages 5,000 miles of energy corridors for the transmission of electricity, and this infrastructure is compatible with the expansion of high-speed Internet access via fiber optic lines.

Interested parties who wish to see the exact nature of the rule changes can visit https://www.regulations.gov and search for “RIN 1004-AE60”. (Zack Quiintance)


A new publication from the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society highlights the role of community leaders and philanthropy in helping achieve digital equity. The argument is that digital inclusion starts at the local level: since every community has unique characteristics and challenges, community plans can help guide planning for states, territories and tribes.

The publication also highlights the power of philanthropies, arguing that while federal funding is available, strategic partnerships can boost the capacity of state broadband offices. In addition to financial support, philanthropic organizations can leverage their connections to a network of stakeholders to build coalitions. Moreover, these organizations often have a regional or even national impact.

Guide, Pathways to digital equity: how communities can achieve their broadband goals – and how philanthropy can helpoffers examples of this work and can serve as a resource for planning and moving towards digital equity. (Julia Edinger)

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