Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

Weekly Wrap-Up, December 12, 2014

By John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, photo by Scott Henrichsen [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsBy John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, photo by Scott Henrichsen [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The FCC made some big decisions in reference to broadband this week. First, it opted to expand its E-Rate program, which supports education technology. (Learn more about E-rate here.) The program will now have a spending cap of $3.9 billion (a $1.5 billion growth). The increased spending will be funded by additional fees per phone line. The FCC estimates that consumers will pay an extra $2 per year per line. The FCC also made the decision to redefine broadband, at least as it applies to the Connect America Fund (which subsidizes the expansion of rural broadband networks). Now, in order for a company to use these funds, the broadband they provide must provide speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads. This is an improvement from the FCC’s official definition of broadband (4 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads).

Criticizing the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, Susan Crawford explains why the merger would ruin the Internet.

In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to install Wi-Fi kiosks around New York City (a project now called LinkNYC), the New York Times editorial board highlights the fact that the program will only be a true success if it brings Wi-Fi to all corners of the city, not just the wealthy neighborhoods.

In the Washington Post, Brian Fung considers the question of how cheap Internet needs to be for people to get online. While cost is a primary barrier in people being offline, some research suggests that many unconnected individuals are not interested in being online.

And finally, the Internet is important. But how important? Recently, proponents of Internet access have been finding different ways to describe just how essential access is. For years now, the United Nations has argued that it is a basic human right. Mark Zuckerberg says that it is as essential as being able to call 911.

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Web founder Tim Berners-Lee (pictured above), in response to the European Commission’s ruling on the right to be forgotten, reminds us that “It’s our society. We build it. We can define the rules about how to use data.”


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