Pew Launches Broadband Equity Coalition

A girl attends online school
(Image credit: Mayur Kakade via Getty Images)

The Pew Charitable Trusts has teamed up with some businesses and nonprofits to launch Opportunity Broadband, a digital equity initiative.

The goal is to make sure that the tens of billions of dollars in government broadband subsidies being handed out by the Biden administration -- the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the American Rescue Plan Act and the FCC's Universal Service Fund -- translates to affordable broadband and equal economic opportunities for all.

Opportunity Broadband is meant to help communities "prepare to leverage connectivity, skills, and devices to realize the long-promised outcomes of digital equity." The vast majority of the subsidies -- over $40 billion -- is going to states and localities for their own broadband build-out and uptake initiatives.

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"Universally available and affordable broadband, access to devices, and digital literacy are the first—not the only—steps toward achieving that goal,” said Kathryn de Wit, who heads up Pew's broadband access initiative.

Founding members of the coalition are Heartland Forward, the James H. and Mary B. Quello Center at Michigan State University, the Small Business Majority, the XR Association and the National Birth Equity Collaborative. The Quello Center is named after former FCC Chairman James Quello and his wife, Mary.

Look for a community broadband action plan from the alliance in the next few months. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.