New coalition asks Congress to dedicate revenue from future spectrum auctions to support digital literacy and adoption efforts
Today, nine of the nation’s leading digital equity organizations announced the launch of Airwaves for Equity, a coalition focused on asking Congress to dedicate the net proceeds from future spectrum auctions to support digital literacy and inclusion efforts.
The coalition consists of the American Library Association (ALA), the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, the Center for Rural Strategies, Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), Public Knowledge, the Open Technology Institute at New America, and the Schools Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition.
Airwaves for Equity proposes that Congress dedicate a substantial portion of wireless spectrum auction revenues to endow a Digital Equity Foundation. The goal is to provide sustainable funding for initiatives designed to promote digital literacy and inclusion, from local digital navigator programs and telehealth to disability access and efforts to close the K-12 homework gap.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides over $60 billion to make broadband internet connections accessible and more affordable. But these efforts will fall short if people don’t know how to use technology or cannot tap its value for their most basic needs,” said Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Project at New America’s Open Technology Institute. “Airwaves for Equity proposes a sustainable way to bridge this remaining challenge of the digital divide by promoting digital literacy and adoption efforts.”
“In 2022, our lives are not lived simply online or offline. We are both spaces in so many ways, whether we want to be or not,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. “Directing auction proceeds to support local digital equity solutions makes so much sense and we are thrilled to support this proposal.”
Leaders on the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy and Commerce from both parties have embraced the concept of dedicating auction proceeds to help close the digital divide in other recent legislation. Because the FCC’s auction authority must be extended this year, the needed legislation will create an opportunity to leverage revenues from the invisible natural resource owned by the American people that has become essential as the internet goes wireless: the public airwaves.
About Airwaves for Equity
Airwaves for Equity is a coalition of organizations committed to enhancing digital literacy and inclusion in the United States by creating a Digital Equity Foundation funded by the proceeds from wireless spectrum auctions. Learn more at airwavesforequity.org.