Tuesday and Wednesday, June 20-21
Goldberg Room, 297 Law Building
In today’s world, many aspects of our lives have transitioned to the online space, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, not everyone has equal access to the internet, which can result in significant disparities in digital equity. As a result, policymakers and researchers across disciplines are working to address questions regarding the state of internet access and digital equity. Answers to these questions can inform policy interventions, including consumer subsidy programs, rate regulations, and infrastructure funding.
While regulators might use existing datasets to answer these policy questions, these datasets present challenges and complications that often lead to misleading conclusions. The National Broadband Map dataset curated by the FCC is a prime example. Policymakers at the federal level intend to use this dataset to determine funding allocations for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. However, because this dataset relies on self-reported information, its accuracy and fidelity are subject to serious questions and concerns. Gaps and errors in this data will yield poor funding decisions, with effects that are likely to be felt especially severely in historically or intentionally underserved areas. And this is only one example. There exists, in general, a gap between the data policymakers need and the data currently available.
To bridge the divide between researchers and policymakers working to close the digital divide, this workshop aims to bring together experts from both domains. The goal is to catalyze new ideas, collaborations, and solutions to counter internet inequity within the US and beyond. Specifically, the workshop aims to coalesce on measurements that can serve as viable challenges to the FCC Broadband map, effectively unlocking $45 billion in funding for historically or intentionally underserved areas. The workshop will convene leaders from academia, industry, and government to define and discuss pressing policy questions. They will use the tools and methods familiar (and new) to the network measurement community to launch a new collaborative approach to solving these challenges, thereby addressing inequity in internet access.