In the past 6 weeks, over 30 million people in the U.S. have filed initial claims for unemployment insurance. At a time when we are asked to stay at home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, many state agencies find themselves overwhelmed by the flood of claims, leaving millions with dwindling resources to pay rent or put food on the table or stay connected via telephone or broadband. A program at the Federal Communications Commission should be a lifeline to keep people connected.
Benton Senior Fellow Jonathan Sallet: To say that advanced broadband services are being deployed to all Americans on a “reasonable and timely basis” is to ignore the rapidly changing reality of how Americans work, live, learn, socialize, and receive healthcare — all through home broadband connections. The FCC’s analysis is woefully inadequate:
The principles we need to connect us were enshrined by a Republican-led Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the legislation, overwhelmingly approved by both Republicans and Democrats, the law mandates that the Federal Communications Commission to base policies for the preservation and advancement of universal service on principles including:
As of April 13, 2020, school closures in the U. S. have impacted at least 124,000 public and private schools and affected at least 55.1 million students. Yet, millions of U.S. households either do not have access to broadband networks or can't afford service. Students in these homes are cut off from educational opportunities that schools are now offering online only. The question is: How can we continue to educate these students in the coming weeks and months? In an April 10 presentation to the Federal Communications Commission, an organization called Funds For Learning offered a plan.
President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or CARES Act) into law late last month. With a $2.2 trillion dollar price tag, the law has gotten a lot of attention for its direct payments to U.S. taxpayers and assistance to companies.
On March 23, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. The new law requires the Federal Communications Commission, before the end of the summer, to dramatically reform the nation's problematic broadband deployment maps.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai writes: "It might be hard to find hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but I’m happy to report that Internet access is proving to be one of the most valuable non-medical commodities right now." Is he forgetting the people on the wrong side of the digital divide?
Highlighting some efforts to keep us all connected in what is a very scary time. We look at the Keep America Connected Pledge, other voluntary efforts by broadband providers, and actions by the Federal Communications Commission to waive program rules and increase the capacity of wireless carriers. But even with all this activity, we're seeing too many stories about too many people who are not connected during this pandemic.
Broadband makes telehealth, telework, and distance learning possible. But is U.S. broadband up to the task of delivering these services to everyone in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19)? Both the government and private sector are moving to online systems and operations, but not everyone in the US can easily follow. Large hospitals across the country are quickly expanding the use of telemedicine to safely screen and treat patients for coronavirus, and to try to contain the spread of infection while offering remote services.
For nearly 35 years, the Lifeline program has provided discounts on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers. Over the years, the program has been reformed to include other critical communications services, including wireless and broadband. On Jan 27, a new set of changes, adopted back in Oct, will go into effect while the public gets to weigh in on additional proposals to reform the program. All month, we've been publishing articles on broadband adoption. For many people who haven't yet started using broadband internet access service, cost is a major obstacle.