The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on the Digital Divide and Digital Inequality, and with it, illuminated the broader issue of digital inclusion and internet access as a civil right. Over the last four years, efforts to close the Digital Divide have been geared largely toward access to networks in rural America, but pandemic related displacement is driving a shift in focus toward affordability in both rural and urban areas. This shift is most clearly evidenced by the recently adopted Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which gives broadband providers the unique opportunity to help fight Digital Inequality by offering subsidized discounts on robust Internet service and connected devices capable of helping low-income Americans connect to classrooms, jobs, and telehealth.
The schools and libraries-focused Emergency Connectivity Fund aims to address a homework gap that transformed into a school-year-long remote learning gap. This event will examine the impact of the new Administration; new legislation and the ongoing pandemic on how we think about the Digital Divide and Digital Inequality; and what is being done to address it.