CRS Report: Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs

From the summary of Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs (RL30719, Jan. 9, 2019):

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 is outpacing deployment in rural and low-income areas. Some policymakers, believing that disparities in broadband access across American society could have adverse economic and social consequences on those left behind, assert that the federal government should play a more active role to address the “digital divide” in broadband access.

To the extent that the 116th 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.

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