Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

Weekly Wrap-Up, February 06, 2015

David Rothkopf asks if an open and free Internet is a human right. We need to decide, he argues, and make changes accordingly.

Due to a new partnership, Kajeet Education Broadband will now be available 13,000 school districts.

In the Atlantic’s CityLab, Emily Badger looks at maps of broadband adoption rates in cities across the United States (like the one shown above) and notes the strong correlation between broadband adoption and socioeconomic geography. The locations she maps are potential Google Fiber cities, and Badger discusses how Google Fiber might push cities to look more closely at the patterns of digital exclusion and to more seriously discuss how they can be fixed.

In other map news, as Chicago launches multiple initiatives to combat the city’s digital divide (the Smart Chicago Challenge and the public library Wi-Fi lending program included), Will Flanagan maps the city’s problems.

Writing for Education Week, Benjamin Herod explains a new program, iZone, which aims to get teachers more involved in telling companies what they need in education technology products.

The FCC is starting to consider intervening in state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina. There are currently legal barriers in these states preventing local ISPs from providing service. Providers in Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC filed a petition with the FCC to remove the regulatory barriers currently in place, and the FCC is now considering doing just that.

States across America are seriously considering how to address the digital divide. In New York, Governor Cuomo announced the New NY Broadband Program, which will put $500 million toward building out broadband and fiber in the state. Providers receiving this money would be required to provide minimum speeds of 100 Mbps download. In Iowa, “Connect Every Acre” had its first legislative hearing.

And finally, the biggest news this week had to do with net neutrality. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler outlined his official position on the issue in Wired. As expected, Wheeler proposed that the FCC reclassify Internet as a utility under Title II. This move would allow the FCC to ban ISPs from creating fast or slow lanes. This proposal, as Timothy B. Lee of Vox reports, includes the strongest net neutrality rules to date. But this is not the end of the battle for net neutrality; it’s really just the beginning, explains Monica Guzman in the Daily Beast. Gigi Sohn, Wheeler’s special counsel for external affairs, acknowledges that legal battles lie ahead, but explains to TechCrunch why the FCC will win.


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