Congress should fund a competition for broadband providers to sign up the most new subscribers in low-income communities.
Broadband appears to be widely available in most low income urban and suburban communities. But adoption rates are much lower than in higher in come areas. One way to encourage adoption would be to provide incentives for broadband service providers to sign up new customers, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Currently, they have limited incentives to do so because the costs of getting new customers in these areas can exceed the revenues expected. These costs may include digital literacy training, computer subsidies, and marketing to explain the benefits. But harnessing the competitive spirit of providers to get more customers could prove a cost-effective way to increase adoption. Providing a competition would help mitigate some of these costs and help limelight firms that go the furthest to provide serves in low-income areas. Furthermore, because it would rely on market competition to figure out the best way to get subscribers, it is likely to spur innovative efforts.