The Congressional Research Service recently released a report titled “State Broadband Initiatives: Selected State and Local Approaches as Potential Models for Federal Initiatives to Address the Digital Divide.” The study highlights state and local examples of broadband access and deployment programs developed to narrow the digital divide. 

The Congressional report warns against employing blanket resolutions and emphasizes the importance of viewing and assessing the digital divide through multiple lenses, as significant focus is placed on broadband penetration. However, additional consideration should be given to other factors that influence broadband adoption or lack thereof. 

The assessment also encourages problem-based solutions designed to address the root causes of the digital divide on an area-by-area basis. In order to remain abreast of geographical based issues, the report suggests that Congressional representatives keep their ears to the ground in their districts through continued interaction with local leaders and residents.  

The report places model states and cities into the following categories: 

  • Broadband Infrastructure Deployment; 
  • Public-Private Partnerships for Broadband Buildout; 
  • Leveraging Existing Infrastructure Assets; 
  • Broadband Adoption”,“Broadband Mapping; 
  • Broadband Feasibility
  • Digital Equity and Digital Inclusion;
  • Gigabit Broadband Initiatives; and 
  • Homework Gap.

The research concludes with a section on “Options for Congress,” which suggests strategies for Congress to undertake on a federal level to narrow the digital divide. They are as follows: holding hearings on state broadband initiatives, establishing pilot federal broadband initiatives, increasing the sustainability of state broadband initiatives, and addressing duplicative funding. At a time lawmakers at every level of government need to make closing the digital divide a priority, local officials can provide insights on how federal and state policy impacts communities. Click here to review the full report. 

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