Digital Divide: What is it, Where is it, and Federal Assistance Programs [Updated March 9, 2021]   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Introduction: "The internet became publicly available in the 1990s and has become essential for accessing and carrying an increasing volume of digital information critical to everyday life (e.g., job applications and government forms). Broadband is high-speed internet access that is faster than traditional dial-up access, always on, and relies on high-speed transmission technologies[.] [...] While the number of new broadband subscribers continues to grow, studies and data indicate that the rate of broadband deployment in urban/suburban and high-income areas is outpacing deployment in rural and low-income areas. The term 'digital divide' is used to describe the gap between those who have adequate broadband internet access and those who do not. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. [Public Law] 104-104) acknowledged the digital divide, with Section 706(a) directing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications services to all Americans. Additionally, Section 254 of the act provided for universal service support to further improve access to these services. This report discusses the concept of the digital divide, the status of broadband availability in the United States, and the federal programs that provide funding to support broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption--the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs under the FCC, the broadband and telecommunications programs at the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the Department of Commerce (DOC)."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R46613
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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