The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued two new rules that will help narrow the digital divide. The first new rule requires developers to install broadband infrastructure during construction and rehabilitation of HUD-supported housing and the second requires state and local governments to evaluate broadband access in their community development priorities.
Both rules are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget before they got into effect and it’s unclear if the Trump administration will approve them.
HUD’s new rules are much-needed, as more than half of low-income renters don’t have access to broadband. In addition, the rules demonstrate how federal agencies can adopt policies to encourage digital equality.
A coalition of labor, civil rights, consumer, and public interest groups urged HUD to adopt the rules when they were proposed in the summer of 2016. “Access to broadband is vital for full economic and social participation,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and allied organizations wrote in support of HUD’s proposal. “The Leadership Conference has long encouraged the federal government to incorporate policies to stimulate broadband access and adoption into existing programs. The Department’s proposed rules are an important step to ensure that every American regardless of income or place of residence has access to the internet, the critical infrastructure for the 21st century.”
HUD proposes broadband infrastructure requirement in HUD housing (Speed Matters, May 17, 2016)
Labor, civil rights, consumer groups support HUD proposal to encourage broadband access (Speed Matters, July 20, 2016)
Comments on HUD’s two proposed broadband rules (The Leadership Conference, July 18, 2016)