We urge Congress to establish a broadband credit — call it America’s Broadband Credit — to ensure many more people can afford high-speed Internet access. Congress could set a household subsidy of $50 per month, which is roughly the cost of medium-tier broadband plans in urban settings (and it could provide a higher subsidy for tribal lands). That subsidy would allow anyone and any device in the household to be connected to the Internet, simultaneously, which is how so many families today are operating.
The time has come for Congress to establish a broadband credit—call it America’s Broadband Credit (ABC)—to ensure that people who can’t afford broadband can use broadband. The debate on whether broadband is a luxury or an essential connection to society is over. Broadband is critical, as Americans have now learned as they work, study, consult doctors, socialize, shop—and really lead their lives from home. But for too many, especially the newly unemployed, the cost of broadband service is not affordable.
The debate on whether broadband is a luxury or an essential connection to society is over. More than twice as many people are now using residential broadband during business hours as before the COVID-19 crisis. Over 55 million students have been impacted by school closures. The use of telehealth has skyrocketed. This, I believe, is our broadband moment: a hinge of history that will determine whether today’s residential broadband is fit for the changed world in which we inhabit or whether its limits work to disadvantage those that are not equipped to use it.
On April 7, 2020, Henry Geller passed away. Born in Springfield (MA) in 1924, he was raised in Detroit (MI). During a long career in communications policy, he worked at the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and Duke University’s Washington Center for Public Policy Research. His life's work had a profound effect on US telecommunications; his impact on so many advocates and policymakers is impossible to measure.
Today, we face a health crisis that makes plain – again – the importance of broadband to all people in America. As Oliva Wein of the National Consumer Law Center explains, “We’re hearing stories of low-income people without broadband at home traveling to healthcare facilities, risking their health and the health of other people, including healthcare workers, with whom they come in contact.
As so many Americans work from home, as our schoolchildren and university students shift to online learning, as virtually all of our social interactions occur online, a fundamental question looms: Will the internet break? The answer is probably not a simple yes or no, and it’s probably not the same answer everywhere in the United States.
We are in a moment of intertwined public-health and economic crises; a time when immediate measures are in motion to protect our people and protect our ability to survive economically. Nothing is more important. Congress will now consider a huge stimulus bill, which is right. That stimulus bill should include actions that build a lasting broadband future, which is necessary.
I was General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission when it sought the preemption of state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limited the ability of municipalities to promote broadband. We failed in that effort, but the case laid out the key facts. The FCC found that the provision of municipal broadband in Chattanooga, Tennessee, led to lower rates, increased investment, and improved service from an incumbent broadband provider.
Advanced broadband is a high-tech phenomenon of today. Farming is a practice that stretches back ten thousand years. Together, they can help fight the continuing impact of climate change. Today’s high-tech farming depends on data – from remote sensors, from tractors, irrigation equipment, nutrient application machinery, and harvesters that communicate.
Based on what we’ve learned, we’ve formulated three basic broadband principles for community anchor institution policy.