Black State Legislators Taking Center Stage in Creating Greater Digital Equity

Black State Legislators Taking Center Stage in Creating Greater Digital Equity


The Congressional Black Caucus, as the conscience of Congress, has been working diligently since last year’s launch of the CBC Tech 2020 Initiative to increase diversity and inclusion in the high-tech sector. At the same time, African American state legislators from across the country are looking to ensure that people of color and members of historically underserved communities have an opportunity to be full participants in today’s digital economy.

From promoting access to the internet and consumer protection against discriminatory internet taxes, to supporting efforts to protect and preserve the open Internet without discouraging broadband deployment, the august body of national leaders representing 65 million Americans nationwide have championed policies focused on modernizing the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline (Universal Service Fund) Program, and encouraging the rollout of additional spectrum to support growing wireless demand. NBCSL has even supported the development of a national spectrum policy that provides for licensed and unlicensed use of high-frequency (5GHZ+) spectrum to meet increasing consumer needs and explosive demand.

In addition to ratifying policy resolutions that can be replicated in state legislatures around the nation, NBCSL has adopted a pro-growth ethos, supportive of deep investment in innovation and opportunities to bring 21st century infrastructure to urban and minority communities. “We understand that, these days, social and economic opportunity depend on access to robust, high-speed Internet networks,” said Maryland Senator Catherine Pugh, President of NBCSL, “and the networks of the future depend on rich connectivity and fresh, resilient modern communications infrastructure deployed directly to our communities.”

Among the infrastructure efforts it supports, NBCSL’s membership has begun to look favorably at the use of small cells – like those authorized by AB 2788 – to spur the rollout of advanced networks, especially in densely populated areas. At a time when mobile technologies are increasingly in demand, and flooded networks increase spectrum constraints (i.e. wireless networks become less reliable as too many people use them at the same time), NBCSL is poised to help author and promote legislation that ensures America’s most vulnerable populations have ready access to first in class technological infrastructure.

“Increasing our modern communications infrastructure is about more than technology for the sake of technology,” said California State Senator Holly Mitchell. “It’s about supporting avenues for innovative health care solutions, being proactive about the ways we create and make available to the public new jobs and economic opportunities, and it’s about ensuring that equity and equality are possible for our families.”

No doubt, as innovative new technology solutions continue to come to market, African American legislators will be focused on making sure that the proper infrastructure and opportunities to invest in innovation in their cities remains a top line priority.