Today, the National Urban League released their Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity & Inclusion, a comprehensive agenda addressing the key steps that policymakers must take to create a more equitable and inclusive digital economy. The three fundamental pillars of the Latimer Plan include the closure of persistent and dangerous gaps that exist in broadband’s availability, adoption, and utilization.
Unfortunately, broadband still doesn’t reach millions of American homes and businesses, typically due to sparse population and/or challenging terrain. NUL’s Plan highlights how allocating federal funding to deploy broadband networks to these hard-to-reach areas is critical for closing the availability gap.
Even in areas where broadband networks are available, millions more Americans are unable to subscribe to these services. In fact, the adoption gap is three times bigger than the availability gap. To address broadband adoption, the Latimer Plan discusses how modernization of the Lifeline program is urgent if we are to be successful in making connectivity financially accessible for all Americans. The plan is transparent: (1) Increase the Lifeline subsidy amount; (2) Provide it directly to eligible consumers; and (3) End the program’s reliance on a “tax” on traditional phone service through USF reform.
Finally, closing the utilization gap will help improve the delivery of essential services like healthcare, education, and government services. This is necessary to ensure new online capabilities lift up, rather than disadvantage, economically disadvantaged people and communities of color. The Latimer Plan makes the point:
“Achieving the digital equity and inclusion goals of deploying networks everywhere, getting everyone connected, using the networks to improve how we deliver essential services, and improving economic opportunity and participation in the digital economy requires a sustained, systemic, and appropriately resourced effort. Such an effort will be reliant on intergovernmental coordination and collaboration.”
Read the full Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity & Inclusion here: National Urban League