Roughly 3 million students across the United States don't have access to a home internet connection. A third of households with school-age children that do not have home internet cite the expense as the main reason, according to federal Education Department statistics. But in some rural places, a reliable connection can't be had at any price. The void is especially acute in eastern Kentucky. Many districts have been scrambling to set up paper-based alternatives to online instruction or create WiFi hot spots in school parking lots and other public areas.
Fearful of losing federal pandemic dollars, officials from states across the country are rushing to finish projects by the end of 2020 aimed at expanding broadband internet into underserved areas. To comply with the current CARES Act rules, states must have the broadband projects, which can typically take months if not years of planning and construction, up and running by Dec. 30. Efforts are underway in Congress to provide greater flexibility in the funding.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office has settled an investigation into possible deceptive practices in Frontier Communications' billing and sale of internet services. Under the settlement, Frontier agreed to fully disclose its prices for internet service to new customers before they take service. Many current customers will be allowed to cancel their service without penalty.
On May 31, Sen Angus King (I-ME) has joined a group of colleagues in calling for the Federal Communications Commission to make it easier for tribal communities to get access to broadband internet. The lawmakers said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai should extend the period for tribal governments to complete applications for wireless broadband and increased mobile coverage.