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.

Broadband bipartisanship: How did it happen and will it continue?

Unlike roads, bridges, ports, water systems, and transit, broadband was the only infrastructure Congress funded in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that had not been subject to multiple prior bipartisan spending efforts. One can dismiss this difference on the grounds that the physical nature of broadband is similar enough to projects in prior infrastructure legislation that including it was not a great leap. Still, unlike transportation and water systems, broadband is primarily funded by private capital.

Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s Response to Members of Congress Regarding COVID-19 Telehealth Program

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel responded to House lawmakers' letter concerning the second funding round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The lawmakers had requested that the funding beprioritized in rural areas. In her response, Chairwoman Rosenworcel detailed the metrics the FCC used to evaluate second round applications for the program.

Internet access and its role on educational equality during the COVID-19 pandemic

This study investigates the determinants of Internet access and its effect of it on educational inequality in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings from the study reveal that despite the increase in Internet access during the Covid-19 period, the response to the pandemic has caused education inequalities. Furthermore, economic development indicators are effective in increasing Internet access and reducing educational inequality.

Gage County (NE) selects firm for ARPA-backed broadband project

Gage County, Nebraska, has selected a contractor to improve high-speed broadband access in the county.

Summit County starting $75 million fiber internet project

Summit County, Ohio, is planning to spend $75 million on a fiber internet project that will include building a 125-mile fiber optic ring to connect public safety entities in all 31 county communities and help expand internet access for residents and businesses. There are also plans in the works to work with private internet service providers, who could spend up to $300 million on the project, making the total figure for a potential public-private project nearly $400 million.

The surprising link between Covid-19 deaths and ... internet access

Two years into the pandemic, researchers are still trying to understand what makes some people more likely than others to die from Covid-19. Although we know some of the risk factors — like age and underlying disease — others are less obvious. One of the more surprising answers to this question is one that appears to have a relatively straightforward solution: internet access.

The American Rescue Plan worked

As we reach the first anniversary of President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan into law, the obvious questions include: How did it help?

Poscast: The Future of the Final Mile

When the pandemic hit, everything that could possibly be done online made the jump — work, job-hunting, school, doctor’s visits, and so on. The shift was hard for everyone, but many Americans didn’t even have the fundamental thing needed to make that change: a fast and reliable internet. People without internet access showed up at emergency rooms — during a pandemic — for non-emergencies, because they just weren’t able to do a video appointment. And when the time came, there was no refreshing a browser to find out where to get a vaccine.

The American Rescue Plan People Difference

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act into law, an unprecedented $1.9 trillion package of emergency assistance measures. 20 states have already invested Fiscal Recovery Funds to expand broadband access—in addition to $10 billion Capital Projects Fund which they can use to help ensure that all communities have access to the high-quality, modern infrastructure needed to access critical services, including broadband. Even with more on the way, states and territories have already announced about $9 billion in ARP investments to expand high speed intern

Advisory on Providers Deceiving Lifeline Consumers

The Federal Communications Commission's Office of Inspector General alerted Lifeline, Emergency Broadband Benefit, and Affordable Connectivity Program consumers and providers to improper and abusive enrollment practices that are part of some providers’ online enrollment processes. These providers impermissibly coerce and deceive applicants for Lifeline service into enrolling in unwanted EBB/ACP service or into transferring their EBB/ACP service away from their preferred provider, contrary to the FCC Enforcement Bureau’s earlier Enforcement Advisory and FCC rules.