Prioritize Funding for High-Speed Internet Connectivity that Rural Communities Can Afford to Adopt

Author: Caroline Stratton


Summary 

Access to high-speed internet is essential for all Americans to participate in society and the economy. The American Jobs Plan (AJP) proposal to build high-speed broadband infrastructure to achieve 100% high-speed internet coverage is critical for reaching unserved and underserved communities. Yet widespread access to high-speed broadband infrastructure is insufficient. Widespread adoption is required for individuals and communities to realize the benefits of being online. Federal programs that have recently funded new broadband infrastructure—namely the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Connecting America Fund Phase II (CAF II) and Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auctions—have not adequately tied the input of broadband infrastructure funding to the desired outcome of broadband adoption. Consequently, funding has gone to internet service providers (ISPs) that offer expensive internet service that communities are unlikely to adopt. To use the AJP’s broadband infrastructure funds most effectively, the Biden-Harris Administration should prioritize affordability in funding allocation and ensure that all recipients of federal subsidies, grants, or loans meet requirements for affordable service. Doing so will support widespread internet adoption and contribute to the AJP’s stated aims of reducing the price of internet service, holding ISPs accountable, and saving taxpayers money.


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About the Author

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Caroline Stratton is an assistant professor in the School of Information at Florida State University. Her research agenda is focused on how organizations may effectively design and implement interventions with technology for social good. Her recent work examines policies and programs intended to reduce digital inequality in urban and rural regions of the US. Caroline holds a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Nuclear & Radiological Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.