Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs [April 12, 2011]   [open pdf - 295KB]

"The 'digital divide' is a term used to describe a perceived gap between 'information haves and have-nots,' or in other words, between those Americans who use or have access to telecommunications and information technologies and those who do not.1 Whether or not individuals or communities fall into the 'information haves' category depends on a number of factors, ranging from the presence of computers in the home, to training and education, to the availability of affordable Internet access. Broadband technologies are currently being deployed primarily by the private sector throughout the United States. While the numbers of new broadband subscribers continue to grow, studies and data suggest that the rate of broadband deployment in urban/suburban and high income areas are outpacing deployment in rural and low-income areas. [...] To the extent that the 112th Congress may consider various options for further encouraging broadband deployment and adoption, a key issue is how to strike a balance between providing federal assistance for unserved and underserved areas where the private sector may not be providing acceptable levels of broadband service, while at the same time minimizing any deleterious effects that government intervention in the marketplace may have on competition and private sector investment."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30719
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