Coronavirus and Connectivity

Through our Headlines news service, Benton is tracking the role of broadband in the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Click on titles below for full summaries of articles and links to sources.

Celebrate Digital Equity Advocates

2020 has been so dark. In the throes of a pandemic, we know so much has been lost – is still being lost. But for just a few moments, let us celebrate the achievements of digital equity advocates. Because 2020 only proves how essential our work is. Millions in the US have lost jobs this year. But digital equity advocates have helped people find new employment because of their connections to and expertise with the internet.

Colorado Gov Releases Broadband Initiatives Report, Signs Executive Order Establishing Broadband Advisory Board

Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) released the Broadband Initiatives Report which outlines the state’s vision to create economic opportunity for Coloradans and accomplish the administration’s Bold Four issues through changing how Colorado governs, maps, funds, and deploys broadband.

We Need Broadband for America Now

“We should construct broadband policy based on the ways people use broadband, and that has changed drastically,” writes Benton Senior Fellow Jonathan Sallet in “Broadband for America Now.” He’s absolutely right. Everything has changed since the coronavirus pandemic began – including the ways we use broadband. SHLB has long argued that community anchor institutions (CAIs) require high-quality broadband to serve their communities in the 21st century.

Time to Treat Broadband Like the Essential Service It Is

Let’s stop ignoring the obvious: broadband internet access service is a public utility and needs to be regulated as one.

Gov. Whitmer announces initiatives to increase high-speed internet in Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) announced $12.7 million to increase broadband internet access across Michigan. The broadband projects were selected through the Connecting Michigan Communities (CMIC) grant program. The awards are estimated to generate between $15.7 and $23.1 million in annual economic benefits to consumers. These projects will extend access to over 10,900 households, businesses, and community anchor institutions (CAI) in Michigan.

Broadband help passes in South Carolina

The South Carolina General Assembly passed a bill supporters said will help get high-speed internet to hundreds of thousands of people in rural areas.

Chicago Connected Tackles “Startling Gaps in Internet Connectivity” for City Students

Over the summer, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new program to bring high-speed Internet service to the alarming number of households who do not have reliable access within the nation’s third-largest school district, called Chicago Connected. The program aims to provide free high-speed Internet service to approximately 100,000 Chicago Public Schools students. At the end of Sept, during a virtual town hall meeting, Mayor Lightfoot said that while CPS was making progress connecting eligible families, they had not yet reached the goal. “We’re not where we want it to be.

'Every day, we're falling behind in Appalachian Ohio': Lack of broadband hurts rural areas

Hundreds of thousands of families are challenged by modern economic, education, and health-care systems while living without internet access in rural Ohio. COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue, but the problem has been persistent in Appalachia for decades. In 2019 the Buckeye Hills Regional Council applied for a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to conduct an eight-county study — in Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry and Washington counties — in partnership with Ohio University and the Athens County Economic Development Council.

Senate Democrats call on power, water, telecom giants to halt all utility shutoffs

Top Senate Democrats are calling on electric, gas, water and telecommunications giants to voluntarily halt all utility shutoffs for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The request - sent in a letter to 21 of the largest utility companies including AT&T and Verizon - illustrates the country’s lingering economic needs even as Washington fails to coalesce around a new coronavirus relief package, which congressional Democrats say should include a disconnection ban and other aid to help fa

Rep. McNerney Demands Transparency for Consumers’ Internet and Phone Service Complaints

Rep Jerry McNerney (D-CA-09) sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai a letter following up on the Congressman’s request that the Chairman make publicly available all consumer complaints that the agency has received regarding internet and phone service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep McNerney asked Chairman Pai for a commitment to do this when the Chairman testified on September 17, 2020 at the House Commerce Committee’s FCC oversight hearing.