In a significant victory for supporters of Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today reclassified broadband Internet as a public utility, and established a new Open Internet Order that applies to both fixed and mobile broadband. The new Open Internet Order includes three “bright line” rules, specifically banning broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, applications, and services; impairing access to content, applications, and services; and prioritizing Internet traffic in exchange for “consideration of any kind.”
In an effort to address the lack of broadband access among low-income residents, the Chicago Public Library (CPL), and New York Public Library (NYPL) on June 23 announced new programs that will allow patrons to check out and take home wifi hotspots. NYPL’s “Check Out the Internet,” and CPL’s “Internet to Go” programs are made possible, in part, by grants awarded this week by the Knight News Challenge, a competition developed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Mozilla, to fund and promote projects committed to making the Internet an open, equitable platform.
Though broadband Internet access has become more common in U.S. households during the past decade, the digital divide has not yet been bridged. In fact, challenges now loom larger than ever for households without broadband, said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Chief Librarian for the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) during his opening remarks at the “Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact,” public hearing hosted by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on April 17. According to IMLS estimates, about 100 million Americans don’t have access to high-speed Internet at home, while 19 million don’t have any Internet access at home.
ALA Highlights Benefits of Federal Broadband Funding, Argues that E-Rate Must Be Enhanced to Sustain Progress
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $4 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) has helped about 20 percent of U.S. libraries make improvements to publicly available technology resources and digital literacy within their communities, according to a report released on Monday by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP).
In conjunction with Connect Puerto Rico, a subsidiary of non-profit Connected Nation, the Puerto Rico Broadband Taskforce (PRBT) has released a strategic planto enhance the island’s broadband infrastructure and improve digital literacy among its residents. Libraries and public computing centers are expected to play an important role.