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Homework gap highlights digital divide as Congress considers more money for broadband

School buses across the country are helping school children as they finish a decidedly unconventional academic year but they aren’t transporting students, they are acting as mobile Wi-Fi units bringing connectivity capability to students who lack broadband service. As the coronavirus pandemic closed schools across the country, many in rural or low-income areas without internet access were left scrambling as classes went online. Equipping buses with Wi-Fi to help accommodate the online learning is a short-term solution to a much bigger problem.

FCC announces new tech initiatives

The Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai outlined two new initiatives aimed at ensuring U.S. leadership in 5G and continuing efforts to close the digital divide. Pai announced his intent to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which he indicated would inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural American over the next decade.

Interactive map highlights presence, limitations of broadband access

A new map of broadband access based on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data offers a granular look at the internet options available to Americans. Based on data submitted by internet service providers through FCC’s Form 477, the map provides insight on the types and speeds of internet access available on a block-by-block basis across the country. Notably, the maps do not include information on the cost of internet service. 

FCC Overstepped Authority by Regulating Municipal Broadband Projects, Court Rules

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan that would allow municipalities to build their own broadband network – superseding state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that explicitly prohibit such projects. The FCC claimed that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 granted it implicit power to preempt state laws that are intended to support open markets for private-sector utility companies.

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