The NDIA recently released a report outlining how current broadband funding channels more funding to white, rural communities that urban dwellers of color…
The federal government’s existing broadband programs target tens of billions of dollars to expand broadband availability for residents of “unserved and underserved” rural areas, while studiously ignoring tens of millions of urban Americans who still lack high-speed internet service.
This policy framework is counterproductive for reducing the nation’s overall digital divide. It is also structurally racist, discriminating against unconnected Black Americans and other communities of color.
We present data below showing that:
- most Americans who have a chance of benefiting from federal spending on rural broadband deployment subsidies are non-Hispanic white
- Americans who lack home broadband service for reasons other than network availability are disproportionately people of color.
Conscious or not, the objective effect of current policy is that broadband investment – not just by the FCC and USDA, but by some states as well – is directed mostly to assisting non-Hispanic rural white people to get better internet connections.
Continued federal policies which direct federal “digital divide” spending only to rural infrastructure, and not to broader digital inclusion programs for both urban and rural residents:
are inequitable to communities of color, and
will help perpetuate the digital exclusion of those communities’ members from employment opportunities, education, healthcare services, financial and commercial access, and social and civic participation.