March 1, 2023
Today, Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Digital Equity Foundation Act in both chambers of Congress. New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) endorses the legislation, which would create a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to promoting digital equity and inclusion nationwide. OTI previously endorsed this legislation in the 117th Congress, and applauds Senators Klobuchar, Markey, Blumenthal, Durbin, Merkley, Feinstein and Heinrich for recognizing the Act’s potential and joining as Senate co-sponsors this session.
While the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated over $60 billion to help close the U.S. digital divide, there remains no dedicated, sustainable source of funding for the digital literacy and adoption efforts needed to make the most of this historic investment. OTI’s Wireless Future Project and the Airwaves for Equity coalition are leading proponents of creating a Digital Equity Foundation endowed by government auctions of the public airwaves, or “spectrum.”
The Digital Equity Foundation Act would fill this need, creating an organization with the ability to award grants, provide digital literacy training, connect residents to affordable internet service, leverage private sector resources, convene government and private stakeholders to find digital equity solutions, collect data on existing digital inequities, and more. We urge all members of Congress to support this legislation, and to ensure that the Foundation is funded sustainably through an endowment of proceeds from future spectrum auctions.
The following can be attributed to Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at New America’s Open Technology Institute.
“We commend Senator Lujan and Representative Matsui for recognizing that without sustained investments in digital adoption and inclusion efforts at the community level, the huge new federal investments in broadband infrastructure and affordability won’t close the digital divide. A Digital Equity Foundation dedicated to this work, and funded by future spectrum auctions, will provide a sustainable way to tackle this part of the digital divide.”