With the Biden administration's $65 billion broadband bill now signed into law, this week on the podcast we hear from Mark Buell, regional vice president for North America at the Internet Society, on the impact it will have on the digital divide.
[Ed. note: This conversation was recorded just prior to the bill passing in the House. It was officially signed as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on November 15.]
We discuss some of the "very good" things in the bill, as well as the "less good" elements – like a lack of funding specifically for municipal and community networks.
We also get into the need for the FCC to update its "horrendously inaccurate" national broadband map in order for the legislation to succeed – a topic that got a lot of airtime during Jessica Rosenworcel's Senate confirmation hearing for FCC commissioner and chairwoman on Wednesday. While the FCC's data suggests fewer than 18 million Americans are lacking access to broadband services, other estimates put that number closer to 40 million to 60 million.
"The fact is good policy is built upon good information. And we don't have good information about who is and who isn't connected," said Buell, adding that the FCC's broadband map should have been fixed years ago. "But now with the prospect of spending, you know, upwards of $65 billion to connect the unconnected, it's become much more urgent."
— Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host of "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast