Combatting Systemic Inequality by Closing the Digital Divide: A Chat on Solutions with FCC Commissioner Starks

featuring a virtual fireside chat with FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks and Kim Keenan, IIA Co-Chair, former President & CEO of MMTC and longest-serving female General Counsel of the NAACP

Underscored by the pandemic, lack of broadband access is a significant contributor to systemic inequality. In a remote-everything world, broadband is critical to ensuring that all Americans can telework, participate in remote learning, benefit from telehealth, and much more. The digital divide has been closing in recent years, but digital inequality remains due to lack of broadband infrastructure where geographic barriers have made build-out uneconomical, as well as the issue of broadband affordability, which is a problem that’s three times larger than broadband availability. The Emergency Broadband Benefit provided by Congress and shepherded by the Federal Communications Commission will provide low-income Americans up to a $50 a month discount ($75 per month on tribal lands) to offset the cost of broadband connectivity during the pandemic, but a long-term solution to make broadband affordable for every American is still needed.

The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a broad-based coalition supporting broadband availability and access for all Americans since 2004, invites you to take a closer look at solutions for the digital divide, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit and Lifeline program modernization, during a discussion between FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks and Kim Keenan, IIA Co-Chair, former President & CEO of the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council and longest-serving female General Counsel of the NAACP. Together, they will explore how communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by the digital divide, with special attention to the role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in closing the digital divide. Questions from the audience will be answered following the Q&A.