In December 2016, the Congressional Research Service office released two reports on federal funding programs to improve high-speed Internet access. One report focuses on Tribal lands, and the other report provides an overview of the digital divide in general.
Dollars for the Digital Divide
Researchers Lennard G. Kruger and Angele A. Gilroy collaborated on Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs. Kruger is a specialist in Science and Technology Policy and Gilroy is a specialist in Telecommunications Policy. The report provides an overview of ongoing efforts, including recently enacted legislation.
Kruger and Gilroy define the digital divide as between those who have access and those who do not. In particular, they focus on the dynamic between urban and rural areas, especially with regard to different income levels. The researchers consolidate previously released information on the digital divide and provide an analysis of current programs, including grants through the Appalachian Regional Commission. The researchers conclude by detailing all recent legislation. Check out the report for more information.
Status of Tribal Broadband
Kruger also wrote Tribal Broadband: Status of Deployment and Federal Funding Programs. This report follows up the Government Accountability Office’s 2016 report, Additional Coordination and Performance Measurement Needed for High-Speed Internet Access Programs on Tribal Lands.
Drawing on information from both the GAO’s report and the FCC 2016 Broadband Progress Report, Kruger relays key facts about Internet access and federal funding. In particular, Kruger notes in the report that there is no dedicated federal funding earmarked to improving Internet access on Tribal lands:
Tribal entities and projects are eligible for virtually all federal broadband programs. With a few exceptions, however, there are no carve-outs or dedicated funding streams specifically for tribal applicants or non-tribal entities proposing to serve tribal lands. Thus, annual amounts of federal financial assistance vary depending on the number and quality of tribal-related applications received, and the number of tribal-related broadband awards made by the funding agencies.
About the Congressional Research Service
The Congressional Research Service is the nonpartisan research agency that provides information and analysis to members of the House and the Senate. Their work seeks to show the impact of legislation and policy. The Congressional Research Service is within the purview of the Library of Congress. For more information, check out their portal on the Library of Congress website.