FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks
My top priority for the year ahead, which should surprise no one, is continuing the work we have been laser-focused on all year: making sure all Americans have access to high-speed broadband. Here, in year two of our battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are enduring the lingering effects of a multilayered crisis that has reverberated across healthcare, education, the economy, widespread job losses, and food insecurity.
Today we gather during National Supply Chain Integrity Month to discuss ways to strengthen our supply chain against potential bad actors. Policymakers must ensure that small and mid-sized carriers have access to equipment and services that are not only secure but make good business sense.
I’m excited to discuss Team Telecom and the Federal Communications Commission with you.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will reach more disconnected low-income households and people of color than any previous FCC effort to close the digital divide
In June of 2020, I co-authored an op-ed with leaders Reverend Al Sharpton, Vanita Gupta, Marc Morial, and Maurita Coley entitled, Broadband Access Is a Civil Right We Can’t Afford to Lose—But Many Can’t Afford to Have.1 The first line in that piece reads: “There is a broadband emergency in America.” I am deeply proud of today’s action that follows through with that fierce urgency of now.
I believe that it is incredibly important to revisit the conversation we had in 2020 about the intersection of the digital divide and Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) – so that we can understand the work that has been done, what remains, and cross-collaborate on what we can all do to keep pushing forward, even in the face of headwinds. It is past time that we have an equitable and connected country, but where there are gaps, we’re going to be dependent on the folks listening in and participating here today to make investments in our HBCU students, bolster our anchor inst
I want to focus on one critical aspect of moving through and forward from this difficult time: bringing high-quality, affordable broadband into every home—something that’s at the heart of so many of the economic development priorities you are exploring during 2021’s conference. We can no longer defer the hard work on digital equity and believe that a future group and time will solve this issue.
There are lots of details to work out, but the two biggest issues we face in setting up the Emergency Broadband Benefit program are both on the agenda today: First, how will we get the word out? We need a broad, collaborative outreach effort that must coordinate across the federal government and also include state and local governments, broadband providers, nonprofits, philanthropy, educators, and direct service providers. It also means making the sign-up process as straightforward and simple as possible.
My top priority for the coming weeks is getting emergency broadband access to as many Americans as possible. If we’re successful, the Emergency Broadband Benefit will reach more disconnected low-income people and households of color than any previous Federal Communications Commission effort to close the digital divide. But Congress has—quite reasonably under the circumstances—given us just 60 days to set up the program.
Congratulations to my friend and colleague Jessica Rosenworcel on her designation as acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. For many years, Jessica has been a passionate advocate for bringing the benefits of broadband to all Americans—particularly our children. Her designation comes at a critical juncture for the Commission, as COVID-19 has made bold action to end internet inequality more vital than ever. I look forward to working with her to close the digital divide and on the wide range of pressing issues facing the Commission.