Lumen's Failure to Invest is Worsening the Digital Divide

July 22, 2021
A new report from CWA and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) shows that Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) is worsening the digital divide in the U.S. by blatantly failing to invest in essential fiber-optic buildout in lower-income, rural, and Tribal communities. Lumen has cut more than 4,500 CWA-represented jobs since 2017, which has contributed to the problem.

The report, “Lumen’s Digital Disparity: Underinvestment in Infrastructure Discriminates Against Lower-Income, Rural, and Native American Customers,” analyzes Lumen’s network in 30 states using Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data, interviews with Lumen technicians, and reports by local advocates in Lumen’s service area.

“With a massive national footprint and hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to building broadband in communities that need it most, Lumen Technologies needs to set an example for the industry and help close the digital divide by investing in next-generation networks in low-income and rural communities,” said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts.

CWA is calling for Lumen to double the number of households passed by fiber in two years, to take advantage of federal funding opportunities for fiber buildout, and to stop its practice of outsourcing publicly-funded broadband jobs to non-union contractors.

“Lumen Technologies’ failure to effectively deploy broadband in unserved communities stems in large part from the ongoing job cuts of its highly-skilled union workforce,” said CWA Local 7804 President Jake Williams. “Union workers with CWA are Lumen’s most important resource when it comes to effective broadband buildout. Union workers have decades of training and experience in broadband deployment, and they know what it takes to build strong, lasting connectivity. Lumen needs to start investing in its workers who are on-the-ground hearing customers’ concerns and installing the company’s network.”

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