The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Communications Equity and Diversity Council (CEDC) released a report detailing recommendations and best practices that local governments can follow to prevent “digital discrimination” in broadband deployment and promote digital equity. This report aims to assist local governments and other entities in helping remove barriers to equal opportunity and deliver broadband services equitably to all Americans.
MACo adopted “Build out Broadband” among its top legislative initiatives for 2021 and supported multiple successful initiatives. However, challenges remain as counties work with state, federal, and private sector partners to leverage unprecedented federal investments by accelerating service to underserved areas.
The first set of recommendations from the Digital Empowerment and Inclusion Working Group includes policies and best practices that states and localities can adopt to prevent digital discrimination by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The second set of recommendations centers around supporting digital equity, including increasing affordability and digital navigation services for historically disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.
According to the National Association of Counties (NACo):
[The first set of recommendations] include:
[The second set of recommendations] encourages the FCC to work with states and localities to make low-cost broadband available to low-income households through government benefit programs in combination with ISPs low-income programs. It also includes raising awareness about these connectivity programs for eligible households, streamlining the application process for the programs, and the creation of a digital public service engagement program to conduct training and outreach in non-adopting communities.
- The development and dissemination of periodic equity assessments in partnership with the ISPs, the community, and other local stakeholders.
- Convening regular meetings of broadband providers and stakeholders including community anchor institutions, public interest groups, community advocates, labor organizations, and faith-based institutions to evaluate areas and households unserved or underserved with competitive and quality broadband options.
- The engagement, where permissible under state and federal law, in the management of public property such as public rights-of-way, to avert discriminatory behaviors that result in or sustain digital discrimination and redlining.
Visit the NACo website for more information.