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Broadband's Impact

Expert Opinion: Broadcast Broadband to Everyone: Messaging Beyond the Inner Circle

At MIO, we’re well aware that broadband isn’t being used to its full potential because not enough of the right people know what it is or what it can do for them. And since they don’t know what they’re missing, they’re not asking policymakers or the companies that provide broadband to make it more accessible. This is, in essence, the underlying problem that will perpetuate the digital divide.

Our nation’s goal is to decrease that divide: to help key decision-makers understand what broadband is and why they need it; encourage companies and policymakers to make it widely available; and help communities make the most of the opportunities it offers for economic development, increased quality and reach of services, and jobs.



At MIO, we’re well aware that broadband isn’t being used to its full potential because not enough of the right people know what it is or what it can do for them. And since they don’t know what they’re missing, they’re not asking policymakers or the companies that provide broadband to make it more accessible. This is, in essence, the underlying problem that will perpetuate the digital divide. 

Our nation’s goal is to decrease that divide: to help key decision-makers understand what broadband is and why they need it; encourage companies and policymakers to make it widely available; and help communities make the most of the opportunities it offers for economic development, increased quality and reach of services, and jobs.

So when we (MIO) were ready to talk about our mission and reach out to the people who need to understand the value of broadband, we decided to jump right into the lifeblood of online communications: social media.

We wanted to focus on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. To better understand how to make the most of these resources, we worked with Nology Media, a content publishing, measurement and marketing agency that uses social media to connect brands with audiences. In other words, social media gurus. The folks at Nology outlined the steps we needed to take. First on the list was much like starting a discussion in person: identify the influential people who are talking about broadband, and then join their conversations.

We spent a combined 25 hours searching Facebook, Twitter and various blogging sites for people in the United States talking about broadband. What we found is, in itself, an important illustration of the digital divide.

Who’s talking?

We were surprised to learn that not many individuals who are knowledgeable and influential about broadband are actually talking about it through one of the hottest communication mediums available: social media. We identified only six key people, or “influentials,” who are consistently engaged in broadband dialogue: Andrew McLaughlin, with 6,058 followers; Susan Reynolds, with 5,089 followers; Cecilia Kang, with 4,905 followers; Bill Schrier, with 3,228 followers; Rachelle Chong, with 1,478 followers; and Craig Settles, with 939 followers.

While it’s true we searched for only 25 hours, it’s important to point out that the Internet is supposed to make it easy to find information, yet this wasn’t our experience with social media. There may be other broadband gurus having conversations out there, but if it takes more than 25 hours to find them, then doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having the conversations online?

What are they talking about?

Ironically, the people who have the most to gain from broadband aren’t even talking about it—nor are they the people being talked to through social media. In fact, based upon a review of conversations occurring among the influentials’ followers, we found that the top six influentials are more often talking with one another. Furthermore, those conversations are dominated by the following topics: policy, announcements (mergers, new devices or apps) and technological issues.

Even entities like Benton Foundation, Pew Research Center,, Public Knowledge—all of which release really good information about broadband challenges and usage—aren’t often talking to the real target audience: the current generation, which hasn’t yet adopted broadband but should to join the digital age. Instead, conversations are primarily among those who are already broadband-savvy. Policymakers and industry experts are talking to one another, and too often we couldn’t find information that explains to the target audience in plain English and in a way that matters to them what broadband is, what it can do for them and who can help them get online.

We also discovered that, while existing conversations are happening online, they’re still not reaching broadband’s true target audiences.

Needed: the right message to the right people and in the right place

When our founder traveled around the state last year in her prior role as Washington’s Broadband Policy and Program Director, she talked to potential end-users about what broadband can do for them. During those conversations she was repeatedly asked, “Why aren’t we hearing more about why broadband is important in the news, on TV or in radio?”

Our observation is that the people who are out there advocating for increased broadband usage should be talking about it where it will be really heard and in a manner that truly communicates broadband’s importance.

Consider where people get their news and information today[1]:

  • 32% of social media users are ages 23-35
  • 26% of social media users are ages 36-49
  • 68% of online news users are under the age 50
  • 39% of ages 30-49 are online news users
  • Average Facebook user is 38
  • Average Twitter user is 33

Clearly, the majority of decision makers still rely primarily on traditional media for their news and information.[2] Ironically, they are the very people with the clout to push for wider broadband use if they could only realize what it can do for them in their work and community. But they’re not hearing about broadband in traditional media.

As for the older demographic that is participating in social media, if they even monitor broadband they’re mostly hearing talk about policy, technology changes and announcements. That’s because the policymakers and industry experts are largely talking to one another. They’re not using social media to talk about broadband to others, and they don’t seem to be using traditional media to talk about broadband at all. So are we all really talking about broadband effectively?

What needs to change?

The broadband industry (both public and private sectors) needs to start talking about the value of broadband in a way that resonates with each audience (specific to education, health care, small business, public safety, agriculture, etc.). Plus, the conversation needs to occur, at least for now, in both social and traditional media in order to connect everyone to the issue, irrespective of age, and to one another.

How do we do this?

  • We can’t wait for the magical moment when the target audience suddenly sees the light and starts using broadband. Due to the digital divide and the reasons for it, those people don’t know what they’re missing. Instead, influential broadband advocates need to change what they say about broadband, and how and where they discuss it.
  • The people who have the most to gain from broadband need to understand in terms that make sense to them what it is, what it can do for them, how they can get access to it, and how they can put it to use. They need real-life examples that resonate with their lives and needs and that are backed by facts and figures to justify the effort to bring broadband into what they do.
  • This more robust and meaningful conversation needs to reach the influentials in education, health, agriculture, transportation, small businesses and others.

At MIO, we want to decrease the digital divide. So we’re going to start talking. Naturally we’re going to talk to the people who want to maximize the opportunities provided by broadband. But we’re also going to talk to the people who aren’t using broadband but should be, because they’re the ones who stand to benefit the most. We encourage our peers who are influential in broadband—as well as those who aren’t talking about their laudable accomplishments—to start using both social and traditional media to talk about broadband beyond our inner circle. By reaching all age groups we can collectively generate a ripple effect of transformation and change into the digital age.

MIO Contact Information
Twitter: mio_nonprofit
Facebook: mio nonprofit


Angela Wu, Founder of MIO, a nonprofit corporation, shares facts and figures to inform, educate and connect the benefits of broadband-based applications and services to what people do.

[1] Hampton, Kieth N., Lauren S. Soulet, Lee Rainie, and Kristen Purcell. “Social Networking Sites and Our Lives | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 16 June 2011. Web. 11 July 2011. <>.


[2] Purcell, Kristen, Lee Rainie, Amy Mitchell, Tom Rosenstiel, and Kenny Olmstead. “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 1 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 July 2011. <>.



Broadband's Impact

House GOP Uses Oversight Hearing to Criticize FCC Actions

Partisan disputes return to FCC policies after years of a 2-2 split on the commission.



Screenshot of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers at the hearing Thursday.

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2023 – GOP lawmakers took the opportunity to slam recent Federal Communications Commission efforts at a House oversight hearing on Thursday.

That did not come as a surprise, with the communications and technology subcommittee branding the hearing as overseeing “President Biden’s broadband takeover.” Partisan disputes have resumed around FCC policies since the appointment of commissioner Anna Gomez, who gave Democrats a 3-2 majority on the commission.

The hearing also touched on spectrum policy and the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is still set to dry up in April 2024 despite months of calls for its renewal.

Digital discrimination

The FCC voted along party lines on November 15 to instate rules addressing gaps in broadband access along racial and class lines. Those rules are taking an approach industry groups opposed and allow the commission to take enforcement action against companies for practices that do not intentionally withhold broadband from protected groups.

Technology and Communications Subcommittee members and Republican commissioner Brendan Carr echoed talking points from an industry lobbying push that characterized the rules as a “micromanagement” effort to scrutinize routine business practices. 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, said “burdensome requirements like these will discourage deployment and harm our efforts to close the digital divide.”

Rodgers sparred with FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on the issue, interrupting her answers to questions to reclaim time.

Rosenworcel, for her part, stuck to her argument that the rules are in line with the Infrastructure Act, which mandates the commission take action “preventing discrimination of access based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin.” 

“The language in this statute is exceptionally broad,” she said.

The act also directs the commission to take into account technical and economic feasibility of deploying networks in poor and rural areas, but Rosenworcel’s assurances that the FCC will do so have not convinced industry or Republicans.

Net neutrality

The commission also moved forward on plans to reinstate net neutrality rules in October. The rules would classify broadband internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, opening the industry up to more expansive regulatory oversight from the FCC. 

Similar rules were in place for two years before being repealed by the Trump FCC in 2017.

Republican committee members grilled the commission on Democratic warnings that the repeal would result in widespread traffic throttling, which did not materialize at scale in Title II’s absence.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, asked Rosenworcel “when the so-called net neutrality rules were repealed, did it end the internet as we know it today, yes or no?”

The commission chairwoman answered a string of similar questions by saying the anticlimactic end to Title II broadband rules was “a result of more than about a dozen states stepping in and developing their own net neutrality laws.”

Commissioner Carr also argued with Rosenworcel on Title II’s impact on national security, talking over each other at points. Carr said there had been “one briefing” in his six year tenure in which he was told about a security issue the government could not address without Title II oversight over broadband. 

Rosenworcel said she has told national security authorities “over and over again” that without Title II authority, she cannot take requested actions to stop bad actors from hijacking traffic.

The commission is taking public comments on the proposed net neutrality rules until January 2024.

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Broadband's Impact

FCC Pushes Congress on Spectrum Auction Authority, ACP Funding at Oversight Hearing

Commissioners from both parties emphasized the issues to the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee.



Screenshot of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel at the hearing Thursday.

WASHINGTON, November 30, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission asked Congress to move on renewing the agency’s auction authority and funding the Affordable Connectivity Program at a House oversight hearing on Thursday.

“We badly need Congress to restore the agency’s spectrum auction authority,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel at the hearing. “I have a bunch of bands that are sitting in the closet at the FCC.”

Rosenworcel pointed to 550 megahertz in the 12.7-13.25 GHz band. The commission would “be able to proceed to auction on that relatively quickly” if given the go ahead, she said.

The commission’s authority to auction spectrum expired for the first time in March after Congress failed to extend it. Auction authority lets the commission auction off and issue licenses allowing the use of certain electromagnetic frequency bands for wireless communication.

Repeated pushes to restore the ability, first handed to the commission in 1996, have stalled in the face of gridlock on Capitol Hill.

Opening up spectrum is becoming more necessary as emerging technologies and expanding networks compete for finite airwaves. The Joe Biden administration unveiled a plan this month to begin two-year studies of almost 2,800 MHz of government spectrum for potential commercial use.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said that’s not fast enough. “I would have had the spectrum plan actually free up more than zero megahertz of spectrum,” he said.

Rosenworcel said the FCC was in talks with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the agency that wrote up the plan, during the drafting process. When asked if the NTIA followed her recommendations, she said she would “like everyone to move faster and have a bigger pipeline in general.”

Commissioners expressed support for a House bill that would give the FCC temporary authority to issue the licenses it already auctioned off for 5G networks in the 2.5 GHz band. An identical bill passed the Senate in September.

T-Mobile took home more than 85 percent of the 8,000 total licenses in the band for $304 million, but the company and other winners cannot legally use their spectrum until the FCC issues the licenses.

Affordable Connectivity Program

Also at the top of commissioners’ minds was the Affordable Connectivity Program. Set up with $14 billion from the Infrastructure Act, the program provides a monthly internet subsidy for 22 million low-income households.

The program is expected to run out of money in April 2024.

“We have come so far, we can’t go back,” Rosenworcel said. “We need Congress to continue to fund this program. If it does not, in April of next year we’ll have to unplug households.”

The Biden administration asked Congress in October for $6 billion in the upcoming appropriations bill to keep the ACP afloat through December 2024. The government has been funded since September by stop-gap measures, with House Republicans ousting former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, over his unwillingness to cut spending and making similar demands of his replacement. 

A coalition of 26 governors joined the chorus of calls to extend the program on November 16. Lawmakers, activists, and broadband companies have been sounding the alarm on the program’s expiration for months as the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment effort gets underway. Without the subsidy, experts have said, households could be unable to access the new infrastructure built by BEAD.

Representative Yvette Clarke, D-NY, said of the ACP shortfall that she is “looking forward to introducing legislation on that very subject before Congress concludes its work for the year.”

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Broadband Updates

All States and Territories Have Released BEAD Proposals for Public Comment

The proposals detail plans for the $42.5 billion broadband expansion program.



Screenshot of the FCC's broadband map.

WASHINGTON, November 22, 2023 – All 56 states and territories have now released for comment their Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment initial proposals.

Funded by the 2021 Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, the BEAD program provides $42.5 billion for expanding broadband infrastructure. That money was allocated to states and territories in June based on their unconnected populations.

A final wave released their proposals for funding projects with that money in recent weeks, with Florida bringing the total to 56 on Wednesday. 

States and territories are required to submit those proposals, which come in two volumes, to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by December 27. So far, 24 have submitted volume one and three have submitted volume two

Volume one details how states will ground-truth broadband coverage data. The Federal Communications Commission’s largely provider-reported coverage map was used to allocate BEAD money, but is not considered accurate enough to determine which specific locations lack broadband. 

Volume two outlines states’ plans for administering grant programs with their BEAD funds. That includes provisions like how grant applications will be scored, financing requirements, and the price at which states will start to consider technology other than the fiber-optic cable favored by the program.

The NTIA approved volume one from Louisiana on September 22 and Virginia on October 25, allowing their challenge processes to kick off. Those are each slated to last 90 days, after which the states will have finalized their list of which locations are eligible for BEAD-funded broadband.

The agency has yet to approve a volume two.

States are able to submit volume one before volume two, an effort by the NTIA to get challenge processes started and expedite the program’s process. 

Once a state or territory’s volume two is approved, it will have one year to award grants under the process outlined in that volume and submit a final proposal to the NTIA. Projects are slated to get underway after the agency signs off on those final proposals.

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