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Celebrating National Digital Inclusion Week and Efforts to Close the Digital Divide

October 07, 2022 by Angela Thi Bennett, NTIA Digital Equity Director

The Internet is an essential communications tool that enables access to work, education, healthcare, and justice. Once a luxury, access to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet is now a necessity.    

Despite its importance, millions of people in America cannot afford Internet service. Millions have no Internet access at all. And many who do, still face slow connection speeds and inadequate service.

This week, NTIA is celebrating National Digital Inclusion Week and the people who are working every day to connect all of America with affordable, reliable high-speed Internet. In our blog, we analyzed Internet Use Survey data on the disparities around Internet adoption and how people view affordability. On social media, we highlighted how people across the country are addressing digital equity challenges.

The theme of this year’s Digital Inclusion Week is “Turning Our Moment into Movement,” as advocates for digital inclusion prepare to make use of unprecedented federal investments in connectivity. Digital inclusion is a core part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. We know that a wire to a family’s home doesn’t help them if they can’t afford the connection. And an affordable connection isn’t enough if they don’t have the tools to succeed online.

Internet for All is about equipping people with the skills, the devices, and the means necessary to realize the full benefits of our digital economy.

Together as a nation, we’re moving forward. All 56 states and territories and over 450 tribal entities have signed on to participate in our Digital Equity Act grant programs funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These programs provide funding to promote digital inclusion and advance equity for all. They aim to ensure that all communities can access and use affordable, reliable high-speed Internet to meet their needs and improve their lives.

NTIA is also actively awarding grants that are helping to meet key digital inclusion goals across the country:

  • Our Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program has announced 70 grants totaling over $750 billion dollars to make long overdue investments to close the digital divide in Tribal communities. This program is the first of its kind for the targeted deployment of broadband in tribal communities.
  • Our Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will deliver millions of dollars for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other institutions serving students of color. These dollars will help to fund everything from new laptops and Internet services to skills training for these institutions that are essential digital access points to their communities.
  • NTIA awarded the first planning grants under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs. Many more of these planning grants awards will be made in the coming weeks.

In order to meet this moment and make Internet for All a reality, we need to ensure all voices are heard. Reach out to your state broadband office to ensure your voice is part of the solutions that connect everyone in America. Please visit InternetForAll.gov to learn more about how, together, we can bridge the digital divide.