Archive for Digital divide

Disconnecting the poor: the FCC’s attack on Lifeline

At the top of the sidebar to the right, there’s a link to an online petition being circulated by our friends at Free Press.  Please take a minute, right now, to add your name.

The Trump FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai is now accepting comments on a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM) that they call Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers.  Of course the proposed new rules, if adopted, would accomplish the exact opposite of that title’s promise.  They would reverse most of the “Lifeline broadband” reforms adopted by the old FCC leadership in 2016, reduce the Lifeline program’s funding, impose new costs and eligibility limits on low income households seeking to use the program, and disrupt existing Lifeline services (including broadband access) for at least two-thirds of current customers by banning their “non-facilities bases” providers from the program.

The text accompanying the Free Press’ petition explains all this in greater detail, so read it there.  You can also learn more from this post at the National Digital Inclusion blog. We won’t repeat it all here.

Disconnecting 325,000 Ohio households 

But Ohioans should be aware of this: More than 300,000 households in Ohio could lose their current Lifeline connections if Pai’s plan goes forward. Read more

Detroit and Cleveland are among the 25 worst-connected U.S. cities

… and so are Akron, Dayton, Cincinnati and Toledo.

In September, the U.S. Census published the first round of results from its 2013 American Community Survey (ACS).  For the first time, the 2013 ACS included data on household computer ownership and Internet access.  This data is currently available only for “places”, i.e. cities, with 65,000 or more residents.

CYC 2.0 staff has analyzed the household Internet data for the 176 U.S. cities that have 50,000 or more households.  We wanted to know which cities have the most households:

  • with no home Internet access of any kind (including dial-up, mobile access,  etc.), and
  • with no “fixed broadband” connections such as DSL or cable modem accounts, satellite access, fiber to the home, etc.

We’ve put together a list of the 25 big cities where the Census data shows the highest percentages of households lacking access by each of these definitions.  You’ll find both lists below.

Here are some things we learned:

1) Detroit was the #1 worst-connected city on the list for fixed broadband access, and the second worst (behind Laredo, Texas) for home Internet access of any kind.  The Census found that 57% of Detroit households lacked any kind of fixed broadband Internet account (DSL, cable, etc.) in 2013.

2) Cleveland came in at #5 worst for fixed broadband access, and #7 worst for all kinds of home access.  51% of Cleveland households lacked fixed broadband access in 2013, according to the ACS data.

3) Five of Ohio’s six biggest cities (all except Columbus) were among the nation’s top 25 worst-connected for Net access of all kinds, and four (all except Columbus and Toledo) made the list for households lacking fixed broadband connections. (In the latter category Toledo was #26.)

4) The four Ohio cities on both lists — Cleveland, Dayton, Akron, and Cincinnati — are all slated to be “divested” to Charter Communications if the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable gets FCC approval.  So is Milwaukee (16th worst-connected in fixed home broadband, 20th worst in home access of any kind.)  St. Louis and Birmingham — the two big, poor cities that Charter now serves and plans to keep in its proposed “swap” with Comcast — are also on both of our lists. If its deal with Comcast and Time Warner gets FCC approval, Charter could end up serving seven of the nation’s 25 worst-connected big cities by this time next year.

So here they are — America’s 25 worst-connected cities. Read more