Digital Divide Projects Announced for 2021

06 Apr 2021    

The rural digital divide is one of the most pressing, and difficult to solve, public policy issues in America today. Since 2018 the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program, now with the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center (NGTC), has hosted a local, regional, and national stakeholder roundtable for the telecommunications industry led by Professor and Director Gus Hurwitz.

This ongoing work brings together experts from around the country who have been involved in digital divide policy, to discuss the challenges and potential solutions to this problem. Through a series of roundtables and student opportunities, NGTC capitalizes on our location and local relationships to advance this issue. The goal remains to foster organic, candid discussion between stakeholders, who may not often have the opportunity to interact and to encourage research on this important issue. Continuing in this tradition, we recently announced support for new projects, as part of the 2021 Roundtable. These project authors will meet virtually to workshop and discuss their work, as well as record podcast episodes with the center highlighting their research impact. 

  • Jacob Manlove, Arkansas State University, Impacts of Broadband Availability in Arkansas Public Schools During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Survival Analysis of Virtual Learning Decisions
  • Brian Whitacre, Oklahoma State University and Roberto Gallardo, Purdue University, Do “Dig Once” and Permitting Policies Improve Fiber Availability?
  • Angela Hollman and Tim Obermier, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Reverse engineering Rural Measures: Is this the solution for real-time speed monitoring?

In spring 2020, the center and the program supported several empirical research projects conducted by academics active in this area of research. Presentation of these projects was ultimately delayed by COVID-19. Instead of the round table discussion that we had planned to hold together in person last April, we met virtually in October to discuss this research. That discussion was cut down into individual podcasts and is presented in a series of episodes as part of the research initiative driven Tech Refactored++ series. These episodes include short presentations from the authors and questions from other project researchers.

All of the 2020 project podcasts are available on our website and include,  Angela HollmanTim ObermierDavid ReedMatt LarsenMichael KotrousBrent SkorupBrian WhitacreRoberto GallardoSarah Oh, and Will Rinehart

Past participants included representation from Google, Comcast, the Nebraska Telecommunications Association, Microsoft, the FCC, Iowa Communications Alliance, Great Plains Telecommunications, Century Link, the State Independent Telephone Association of Kansas, the Nebraska Public Service Commission, and more.

Questions about any upcoming calls for research proposals or about the initiative should be directed to Elsbeth Magilton at elsbeth@unl.edu.