Policy Positions

City digital inclusion leaders featured in special journal issue
The Journal of Digital and Media Literacy published a special issue on “Digital Inclusion Policies & Programs of Local Governments”, featuring articles by municipal digital inclusion leaders from seven U.S. cities (all Trailblazers).

Announcing the Digital Inclusion Corps Pilot Project
NDIA is happy to report we received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) supporting a pilot Digital Inclusion Corps. The project will demonstrate the value of having local digital inclusion corps members connected nationally to a supportive peer network working towards increased digital inclusion in the United States. Lessons learned from this project will inform efforts toward a substantial national digital inclusion corps. 

Aggregating Lifeline Broadband Subscribers FAQ
The FCC's Lifeline Modernization Order suggested the potential for aggregation of eligible Lifeline consumers by community-based organizations, housing associations and community anchor institutions. Since the idea is new there are few details on how it should be done. This FAQ shares what we know and what we think might be strategies to a successful aggregation.

Digital Inclusion Recommendations to the U.S. Federal Government
Recognizing that federal support can substantially strengthen local local digital inclusion activities, we, the National Digital Inclusion Digital Inclusion Alliance, make the following recommendations to the U.S. federal government.

NDIA and Mobile Citizen Launch Digital Inclusion Trailblazers
November 7, 2016 -- The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), a unified voice for technology training, home broadband access and public broadband access programs, today launches Digital Inclusion Trailblazers, a resource for tracking local government digital inclusion leadership and programs. With the support of Mobile Citizen, a provider of low-cost mobile internet exclusively to nonprofits, educational entities and social welfare agencies, NDIA has developed a public inventory of local government initiatives across the U.S. that promote digital literacy and broadband access for underserved residents.  

FCC Names NDIA’s Siefer to Consumer Advisory Committee
The Federal Communications Commission has appointed NDIA Executive Director Angela Siefer to serve as a member of its 2016-18 Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC).

NDIA Comments on a National Broadband Research Agenda
Below in text and attached as a PDF are NDIA's comments on a National Broadband Research Agenda. The Request for Comments was posted in the Federal Register on 9-9-2016 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). We submitted our comments on 10-11-2016.

 NDIA director Speaks at Release of SHLB Coalition Action Plan
NDIA Director Angela Siefer was a panelist at the SHLB Coalition's July 13 presentation of their new action plan, Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan. The action plan is part of a larger SHLB effort, the "Grow2Gig+: Anchors Advance Communities Campaign", which seeks to make gigabit data speeds for anchor institutions a national priority. 

New Federal Reserve Publication Links Digital Inclusion and Community Reinvestment Act
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has just published Closing the Digital Divide, which the Bank's President calls "a toolkit for bankers seeking to bring digital opportunity to underserved, rural and tribal communities through access to high-speed broadband. Bank investments as well as partnerships with local governments, nonprofits and educational groups can help ensure equitable access to the growing digital economy."

NDIA Comments on HUD’s Proposed Rule Modernizing Consolidated Planning Process
Below are the comments of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance regarding HUD's proposed rule in Docket No. FR 5891-P-01, "Modernizing HUD's Consolidated Planning Process To Narrow the Digital Divide and Increase Resilience to Natural Hazards". Here is a PDF of our consolidated planning comments. We also submitted comments regarding HUD’s proposed rule on the Installation of Broadband Infrastructure. Since infrastructure is not our expertise, for those comments we referenced and supported the comments of the City of Seattle and the National Housing Conference. Here is the PDF of our infrastructure comments.

 Comcast Expands Internet Essentials to Public Housing and HUD-Assisted Residents
For people living at or near the poverty line, cost is a major barrier to getting Internet access at home.  Now, thanks to Comcast, all public housing and HUD-assisted tenants (primarily those using Housing Choice vouchers or in project-based Section 8 units) in Comcast’s service area are eligible to apply for Internet Essentials, Comcast’s high-speed $9.95/month service for low-income residents. Here is Comcast's notice. Until today, only families with children enrolled in the Federal free/reduced school lunch program (and a handful of seniors in pilot programs) were eligible. This one expansion SUBSTANTIALLY increases availability to low-cost Internet service in the United States.

Digital Inclusion Day
Friday, May 13th marked the inaugural celebration of National Digital Inclusion Day - a day to highlight and discuss the impact that digital access and skills can have on society, families and individuals. The NDIA, along with partners and affiliates from around the country, hosted an online Twitter Town Hall to address these important issues and reaching over 200,000 people online. The discussion came a day after  the Center for Public Integrity published an article referring to the digital divide as the “civil rights issue of our time,” making the conversation more timely than ever.

 32.5 Million from “New Charter” for Digital Inclusion In California: A National Model?
As the FCC nears a decision on the proposed merger between Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, digital inclusion advocates in California have negotiated a $32.5 million deal with "New Charter" that could support broadband adoption by hundreds of thousands of low income families in the state.

The FCC Takes on Digital Inclusion Beyond Lifeline
The Federal Communications Commissioners voted (3-2) to include broadband internet as a subsidized Lifeline service for low-income consumers. Its an incredible policy that will create one very important tool to reducing digital disparity. What is also incredible is that the FCC's order includes the creation of a digital inclusion plan. The FCC understands that cost is only one barrier. The other greatest barrier is digital literacy. The FCC has been clear all throughout the Lifeline proceedings that they do not have the resources to tackle the digital literacy barrier. The inclusion of the creation of a digital inclusion plan in the Lifeline order means the FCC heard what we were saying and recognizes the FCC can play an important role bringing attention and resources to the issue of expanded technology access and use. 

White House Affirms Necessity of Getting Online & Having Digital Skills
An unprecedented variety of public and nonprofit leaders are engaged in efforts to overcome the digital divides that afflict our disadvantaged neighbors and neighborhoods.  This is affirmed by today’s announcement that President Obama is unveiling ConnectALL, an initiative to help Americans from across the country, at every income level, get online and have the tools to take full advantage of the Internet. Here’s the highlights of what was announced in the Fact Sheet and what we think of them:

FCC Shares Highlights of Draft Order to Modernize Lifeline
We formed NDIA in the spring of 2015 with the initial intent of bringing the expertise and experiences of broadband adoption practitioners (see our map of affiliates) to the Lifeline modernization process occurring at the Federal Communications Commission. Today, FCC Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn released a blog post and a fact sheet on the Lifeline Modernization Proposal circulating inside the FCC. Both of these documents clearly show the Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn understand the necessity of broadband access and use. In particular, we are pleased to see the proposal includes a standalone broadband option, robust minimum standards, and a widening of who can provide Lifeline broadband service. Our voice was heard. We look forward to reading the full order expected from the FCC on March 31, 2016 and helping guide implementation of a modernized Lifeline program. 

Senate Briefing – Understanding Digital Inclusion & Broadband Adoption
Thanks to the Benton Foundation, Casey Sorensen of NDIA Affiliate PCs for People and I spoke on a Senate Briefing panel sponsored by Georgetown’s Institute for Public Representation and the Benton Foundation in cooperation with Senator Richard Blumenthal. The briefing was entitled "Understanding Digital Inclusion & Broadband Adoption".  Here is what I said:

NDIA Signs On Letter Encouraging FCC Protect Privacy of Broadband Consumers
NDIA signed on to a letter sent to the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler encouraging the FCC to take steps that protect consumer privacy via our broadband providers. The letter was signed by 59 organizations, including NDIA. The letter states:

FCC Clearly Important Partner Reducing Digital Divide
Individuals adopting broadband do so because they receive guidance and support from family, friends, librarians and community-based organizations. They do so because they find a low-cost broadband service. All of that occurs at the local level but requires federal and state policies that support digital equity. As the Federal Communications Commission works to modernize the Lifeline program, they have become an agency that understands the value of digital inclusion. The remarks of Gigi Sohn, Counselor to Chairman Tom Wheeler, at the Digital Pathway Summit (January 14, 2016) clearly show the FCC is now a federal partner in our quest to reduce the digital divide.

 Libraries Increasing Broadband Adoption
The Benton Foundation published the paper Libraries Increasing Broadband Adoption written by Angela Siefer of National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Katherine Bates of Urban Libraries Council, Colin Rhinesmith of School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma, and Benton Foundation Faculty Research Fellow

The Broadband Opportunity Council Report & Recommendations
The Broadband Opportunity Council (BOC) is an initiative instigated by the Obama Administration, led by NTIA and consists of representatives of 25 federal agencies. The BOC's purpose is to "make recommendations on actions the Federal government can take under existing authority to improve the nation's broadband networks and the benefits of broadband to more Americans". The Broadband Opportunity Council released a Report and Recommendations based upon their request for stakeholder comments (that's us) and commitments from those 25 federal agencies. To help you skim the document, look for the blue underlined sections. These are potential resources for broadband adoption programs. Our comments to the Broadband Opportunity Council are here. NDIA was cited five times in the Report and Recommendations. 

Lifeline Reply Comments: Community-Based Lifeline Providers and No Data Caps
In NDIA's Initial Comments of the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on reform and modernization of the FCC’s Lifeline program, we state the Commission should take community-based solutions into account as alternative solutions in its proposed modernization of Lifeline. Community-based broadband solutions define their first purpose as broadband access and use by disadvantaged households. They provide a low-cost broadband service while often also providing local training and support. 

Community-Based Solutions for Lifeline Broadband
Below is NDIA's response to paragraphs 129-141 of the FCC's  Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on reform and modernization of the FCC’s Lifeline program. The full Comments includes supporting details in the appendices. 

NDIA Comments To FCC: Lifeline Modernization
NDIA's comments to the FCC regarding the modernization of the Lifeline Program are built upon our affiliates' unique positions working directly with non-adopters to increase digital inclusion in the United States. Here are the big points we made in our Comments. We welcome you to read our full Comments.

Changing the Landscape of Low-Cost Broadband: NDIA’s Lifeline Comments to the FCC
NDIA exists to support local broadband adoption efforts. Since the modernization of Lifeline was the original impetus for forming NDIA, we are very carefully considering our comments to the FCC regarding the modernization of Lifeline. NDIA is crafting comments that respond to multiple sections in the NPRM but we wanted to give you a heads up on particular recommendations we are crafting. We will keep our affiliates informed via the NDIA listserv regarding drafts of NDIA comments.

Modernization Of Lifeline: Addressing The Cost Barrier of Broadband Adoption
Dashown joined the navy fresh out of high school where he became an electrician. When he came back home to Cleveland he worked for a steel company. A few years later the steel company filed for bankruptcy. Dashown and many others were laid off. Dashown then took computer classes with Connect Your Community at Ashbury Community Services. He learned digital literacy skills including how to search for a job online. He applied multiple places. One of them called him the day after he submitted his application and a month later he was working full-time. Wanda Davis, Executive Director of Ashbury Senior Community Computer Center, says “Dashown’s story is not unique. We started out serving the seniors in our neighborhood but the need was so great for public Internet access, digital literacy training and low-cost home broadband that we had to expand our services.  Modernizing the Lifeline Program will help my neighbors with much needed low-cost broadband options.”  Dashown’s story is first in this video.

NDIA Comments to Broadband Opportunity Council
Director Angela Siefer submitted comments on NDIA's behalf today to the Broadband Opportunity Council, a new multi-agency body created by President Obama to "understand ways the Executive Branch can better support the needs of communities seeking broadband investment... [and]  help identify regulatory barriers unduly impeding broadband deployment, adoption or competition, and recommend steps to remove such barriers."  The Council, which includes 25 Executive Branch agencies, asked for public input to inform its deliberations.

In Support of Lifeline Modernization
“The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), representing community-based Internet training and access programs in 21 states and 23 metropolitan areas across the U.S., welcomes today's announcement by Chairman Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission regarding modernization of the Lifeline program to include broadband Internet services.

 Lifeline – Where is it Going? A Community Perspective
The Benton Foundation posted this guest article by Angela Siefer on its Digital Beat Blog, outlining the NDIA's perspective on the issues facing the Federal Communications Commission in its upcoming "Lifeline reform" proceeding.