Angela Siefer, NDIA executive director, advocated for the advancement of digital equity Tuesday while testifying on “Ensuring Solutions to Meet America’s Broadband Needs” before the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband.
Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) chaired the hearing with the following witnesses
- Angela Siefer, executive director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance
- Kimball Sekaquaptewa, chair, Connect New Mexico Council; chief technology director, Santa Fe Indian School
- Hon. Michael Powell, president and CEO, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
- Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO, USTelecom
In her five-minute testimony, Angela brought attention to the NDIA community, which is currently made up of more than 1,000 affiliate organizations, along with national advocates, researchers, and public servants. These are the people and the communities that she called digital inclusion “heroes” and was proud to represent at the hearing.
She made some clear requests to the Subcommittee and Congress as a whole:
- Sustained funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program
- Launch of the Digital Equity Foundation, funded by future spectrum auctions to provide federal funding for digital navigator programs, digital skills training, broadband adoption, and devices
- A full FCC commission, with the Senate confirming Gigi Sohn as the fifth commissioner before the holiday recess
- An increase in digital equity funding dedicated for Tribes and territories
“Access to the internet and the skills to use it are essential to not only survive but to thrive,” Angela testified in the hearing. “And thriving is essential to America’s promise, to the wellbeing of its people, and to the country’s ability to compete globally.”
Senator Luján emphasized the importance of digital equity in New Mexico, including on Tribal lands, and also across the country. “We must also continue to find long-term solutions to make broadband access equitable across the United States,” Luján said in his opening remarks. “That’s why I introduced the Digital Equity Foundation Act to create an ongoing source of funds for digital literacy, equity, and inclusion on an ongoing and sustained basis. … We must weave digital equity into the fabric of connectivity in America.”
Angela’s last time testifying before Congress was in January 2020, and she noted how much the pandemic has raised awareness for the urgent need for digital inclusion. She also recognized how Congress has acted to support digital equity during the pandemic, with COVID-19 emergency funding and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes the Digital Equity Act.