Recognizing that federal support can substantially strengthen local local digital inclusion activities, we, the National Digital Inclusion Digital Inclusion Alliance, make the following recommendations to the U.S. federal government.
NDIA calls for the federal government to do the following:
- Develop a national Digital Inclusion Corps, as recommended by the National Broadband Plan and the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition’s “Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan”.
- Create and maintain a digital inclusion asset database and map of local and national digital inclusion programs (affordable home access, digital literacy, public access, low-cost devices, and technology support).
- Create and maintain one website with links to all federal digital inclusion resources.
- Establish funding for a national digital inclusion peer to peer network.
- Empower and incentivize local and state governments to support digital inclusion by clarifying when federal funds can be used to support access, training, devices and other inclusion strategies. Example: HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program.
- Require a “Digital Equity Impact Assessment” by Federal agencies planning new or revamped online services, especially when those are mandatory.
- Invest in a new Federal stimulus for broadband adoption (affordable home access, digital literacy, public access, low-cost devices, and technology support), building on the experience of the Commerce Department’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program.
- Engage the support of industries like financial services and health care that critically need their lower income customers to go online. Example – Update federal regulatory standards guiding financial institutions’ eligibility for Community Reinvestment Act credit to include support for community digital inclusion programs.
- Pursue the recommendations of the Obama Administration’s Broadband Opportunity Council.
- Revise the rules governing the “e-rate” program to allow sharing of capacity at anchor institutions when such sharing does not impact the services provided by the anchors. Example: Using K-12 school broadband access to support neighborhood wi-fi during non-school hours.
- The Department of Commerce should find a way to make existing Census tract-level data on household Internet access available to researchers and communities now. It currently is not due to a Census Bureau 2015 decision to eliminate the American Community Survey Three Year Estimates for budgetary reasons.
- Establish the position Chief Digital Inclusion Officer to assist development of and cross-coordination of digital inclusion initiatives across agencies.
NDIA specifically calls for the FCC to do the following:
- Hold convenings between stakeholders including digital inclusion programs, internet service providers, policymakers and industries that benefit from more customers having home Internet access and digital skills (such as banking and health care).
- Establish definitions of digital equity and digital inclusion. We offer NDIA’s definitions.
- Create guidelines for Lifeline outreach materials (including that drafts be reviewed by stakeholders before released).
- Create “How to purchase broadband service” outreach materials.
- Set digital equity goals for the country, just as the National Broadband Plan set broadband goals for the country.
- Create and update biannually a bibliography of digital inclusion, digital equity and broadband adoption research and case studies.