Abstract

The digital divide—and, in particular, the homework gap—has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, laying bare not only the inequities in broadband Internet access but also how these inequities ultimately affect citizens’ ability to learn, work, and play. Addressing these inequities ultimately requires having holistic, “full stack” data on the nature of the gaps in infrastructure and uptake—from the physical infrastructure (e.g., fiber, cable) to speed and application performance to affordability and neighborhood effects that ultimately affect whether a technology is adopted. This paper surveys how various existing datasets can (and cannot) shed light on these gaps, the limitations of these datasets, what we know from existing data about how the Internet responded to shifts in traffic during COVID-19, and—importantly for the future—what data we need to better understand these problems moving forward and how the research community, policymakers, and the public might gain access to various data.

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