Thu, 05/09/2024

We are excited to announce the acceptance of our ACM Sigcomm'24 paper titled "The Efficacy of the Connect America Fund in Addressing US Internet Access Inequities".  This paper evaluates the efficacy of the Connect America Fund (CAF), a key policy intervention aimed at addressing disparities in US internet access. CAF subsidizes the creation of new regulated broadband monopolies in underserved areas, thereby aiming to provide comparable internet access, along dimensions of price and speed, to that which is available in urban regions.  Using our Broadband-plan Querying Tool, a solution that scalably scrapes ISP websites for available plan data, we collect a novel dataset of approximately 798k residential addresses and the broadband plans (download speed and monthly cost) offered at CAF-supported addresses by four ISPs who claim to provide service.  Our analysis uncovers significant discrepancies between ISP-reported service data and actual broadband availability, with more than 80% of certified addresses in some states, for some ISPs, lacking service. Specifically, we estimate that 45% of CAF addresses in the states we examined remain unserved by the ISPs that certified service to these locations. Moreover, after analysing the download speed tiers that the serviced addresses receive, we estimate that 72% of such CAF addresses are not offered a broadband service plan that satisfies CAF’s minimum speed requirements.  This paper is co-authored by Haarika Manda, Varshika Srinivasavaradhan, Laasya Koduru, Kevin Zhang, Xuanhe Zhou, Udit Paul, Arpit Gupta and Tejas Narechania.