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:
GROUPS CALL ON FCC TO SUPPORT BROADBAND LABELS
A total of 31 groups and individuals involved in digital equity submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of broadband labels.
The letter is online and public, and it was sent on Tuesday, November 1st. The purpose of the letter is to express support for the FCC for broadband consumer labels, which are mandated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and also approved by an executive order signed by the President. Biden. These labels, in short, aim to make broadband Internet billing transparent. The letter stresses the importance of labels being handled in a way that allows consumers to find them easily and urges policy makers to reject any proposal that would limit the label’s appearance at the point of sale.
“Accordingly, the Commission should require the label to be clearly and prominently displayed on the customer’s monthly invoice,” the signatories wrote. “This is where consumers most frequently interact with their ISP and need the information provided on the label to identify surprise charges and other inaccuracies.”
Signatories to this letter are many and varied, with the list including local broadband support groups, national digital equity leaders such as the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and even individuals such as Professor Jon M. Peha. at Carnegie Mellon University who is also the FCC’s former chief technologist. (Zack Quiintance)
NEW YORK SUBMITS INFORMATION TO THE BROADBAND DATA COLLECTION PROCESS
New York’s ConnectALL office — which is leading that state’s efforts to provide affordable internet and boost digital equity — has submitted more than 31,000 addresses in its jurisdiction to the FCC, as part of the Challenge Collection process. broadband data.
That means New York has essentially tried to tell the feds where people in the state are who don’t have high-speed internet, as the FCC works to update its maps, a project still In progress. In a statement announcing the submission, New York officials said they were able to do so thanks to broadband mapping tools they themselves had created.
“With our broadband mapping tool, the first of its kind, we have a clearer picture than ever of New York’s broadband needs and are better able to advocate for federal funding and program support to fill these gaps,” the New York government said. Kathy Hochul in a statement.
This effort to let the federal government know how many people in the state don’t have high-speed internet access comes before the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act disburses a historic amount of funding for high-speed internet. debit. This disbursement is expected to begin in 2023, and it will go to states and territories based largely on the proportion of unserved and underserved homes and businesses in their jurisdictions. A submission like this is essentially a state taking the initiative and making its case as the money is prepared to be sent to it.
The aforementioned New York State Interactive Broadband Map can to be found online now. (Zack Quiintance)
REPORT: HOW POLICY MAKERS CAN HELP LIBRARIES ADVANCE DIGITAL EQUITY
A report released last week by the American Library Association (ALA), titled Leveraging Libraries to Achieve Digital Equity for All, highlights the role libraries play in promoting digital equity. The report argues that policymakers should draw on the expertise of library professionals in state and local planning processes for incoming federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding.
The report highlights the fact that 88% of public libraries offer some type of digital literacy programs to their community. Some examples are highlighted in the report, such as the partnership between the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and the Pottsboro Area Public Library in Texas, which allows people with tape limited bandwidth at home to privately meet with doctors via telehealth.
Most of the federal funding available through the IIJA will be allocated to entities based on their five-year digital equity plans, and those plans must include collaboration with community partners such as libraries. In many places, libraries are on the front line with technology access and skills training, so that these partnerships can leverage existing knowledge and connections to maximize the impact of funding. (Julia Edinger)
USDR USES USER RESEARCH AS A NEW FOCUS
The US Digital Response (USDR) announced a new area of focus — user research.
As part of the announcement, the group made a call for partners in this work, and they also shared related lessons learned from their work with government agencies. The areas where user research can help the government are many, from acquiring systems for residents, to increasing the use of benefits among voters, to clearing backlogs of applications, etc
“Create a government ‘of the people, by the people, [and] for the intent of the people,” the USDR noted in its announcement. “Just over a year ago, the Biden administration signed an executive order on ‘transform the federal customer experience and service delivery‘ with the aim of improving the design of digital services and the customer experience for all. At USDR, we view user research as an essential part of this process. »
The announcement can be read in full via the USDR website. (Zack Quiintance)
AT&T DONATES $10M TO COMPUTER DISTRIBUTION EFFORTS
In an effort to help connect the underconnected, AT&T will contribute more than $10 million, along with support from employee volunteers, to distribute free laptops to students and families across the country. A total of 26,000 computers will be provided, by announcement.
It’s part of the company’s $2 billion commitment to tackle the digital divide by providing connectivity, internet-enabled devices and digital skills training. This effort is made possible through collaboration between AT&T employees and the nonprofit organizations Compudopt and Human-IT. These nonprofit organizations refurbish and distribute computers, while providing digital literacy training and technical support. (Julia Edinger)
FEDERALS SEND $759M TO RURAL HIGH-SPEED INTERNET EFFORTS
In other federal funding news, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement a significant investment in expanding Internet access last week – $759 million in total. This investment will help bring high-speed Internet access to people in 24 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and Palau. This investment is made possible in part through the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act.
The funding announced last week by the USDA is part of the third round of funding for the ReConnect program, for which the USDA announced $1.6 billion in 2022. This funding will support 49 grant recipients, many of whom aim to help rural communities on tribal lands.
Recipients vary, and more information on the projects that will be funded with these dollars can be found on the USDA website. website. (Julia Edinger)