According to the PEW Charitable Trust, about 21 million Americans, nearly three in ten people, don’t have access to broadband connectivity with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps or upload speed of at least 3 Mbps. When the COVID pandemic hit, the scale of the problem and lack of access to digital connectivity became very clear.
Where broadband is available there is an underlying issue in its distribution. Due to no regulating bodies, there are major disparities in broadband delivery which has evolved over many years borne from redlining practices.
Redlining stems from when public and private companies outlined red lines on city maps to highlight between rich white neighborhoods who were considered as lucrative for financial services such as mortgages and loans and those thought to be unsuitable and thus denied access to the same products and services.
This prejudice has caused a disproportionate amount of disinvestment in communities of color and lower socio-economic groups, and has extended to digital connectivity where a lack of finance and investment in broadband affects millions of low-income neighborhoods all over the US leaving many residents without internet access at home, the capacity for children to be home schooled and many unable to work from home.
Digital redlining as it has become more widely known is also being seen amongst national service providers whose aim is to target cheaper and faster fiber services to those residents living in predominantly rural areas with higher-than-average incomes leaving everyone else behind with overpriced, low quality and outdated legacy infrastructures.
The Greenlining Institute was formed to fight redlining, end discrimination and foster research, organizing and policy-making to support racial and economic equality, and has grown to incorporate digital technology stating that broadband is a necessity as important as water and electricity and should be attainable for everyone no matter where they live or what they earn.
The basis of its standards focuses on Access & Affordability, Supplier Diversity, Data Privacy & Redlining and Strategic Partnerships.
The Greenlining Institute supports the open access model championed by SiFi Networks commending opening the market up to several ISP’s who compete to offer the best possible service and in doing so providing the customer with real choice. It is a standard that the Institute believes will help beyond tackling the digital divide by allowing redlined communities to be a part of the digital age where digitalization is the driving force of innovation.
The design of SiFi Networks infrastructure and its citywide construction policy actively works to stop redlining and to close the digital divide in the cities it is deploying its network in. By constructing a citywide network that passes every home in the city regardless of the socio-economic status of the neighborhood and by working with a number of Internet Service Providers to bring a choice of superfast reliable internet connection, it is offering long term opportunities for deprived areas to grow and develop into stronger communities.