America Needs Broadband Now

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Digital Beat

America Needs Broadband Now

Adrianne B. Furniss
         Furniss

Everyone in America should be able to use High-Performance Broadband.

For all that has changed since the Benton Institute released Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s, this goal remains paramount.

In October 2019, we said that connecting our entire nation through High-Performance Broadband would bring remarkable economic, social, cultural, and personal benefits. We said that open, affordable, robust broadband is the key to all of us reaching for—and achieving—the American Dream.

We did not know that the world would change, permanently, with the spread of COVID-19, nor how poignantly our digital divides would be revealed—and deepened.

We did not know that millions would lose their jobs, unemployment would linger, economic growth would nosedive, and many businesses would face retrenchment if not extinction.

Broadband for America NowWe did not know that students of all ages would be forced to connect with teachers and classmates via teleconferencing from home or, if they were on the wrong side of the digital divide, from library or fast-food parking lots.

We did not know that telehealth would become a pressing national need—not just in the treatment of COVID-19, but as a way to provide safe access to health care generally.

We did not know that people would be blocked from government services not because of closed offices, but because of insufficient bandwidth.

Now we know that universal and affordable High-Performance Broadband is more than a goal—it is a necessity.

We ask you now to do more than just join the conversation; we ask that you lend your voice in demanding that policymakers ensure everyone has affordable access to, and can use, the essential service of our time.

The strength of High-Performance Broadband is that it will—if fully accessible to all in America—help solve some of our most critical challenges and help people overcome key barriers regardless of where they live and who they are.

Last year we asked you to imagine each community enabled to identify and build on its strengths and employ technology accordingly.

This year we say we can’t wait any longer to make it happen. We must start addressing at-home internet access not as a troubling issue, but as a civil rights emergency in need of a comprehensive solution. We ask for Broadband for America Now since our current crises demand it.


Adrianne B. Furniss is the Executive Director of the Benton Foundation.

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.


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Benton Institute
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Broadband Delivers Opportunities and Strengthens Communities


By Adrianne B. Furniss.