The pandemic made it clearer than ever how much we depend on a fast, reliable broadband. But getting online for millions of Americans is too costly and in many cases the service is inadequate. Robust competition creates scrutiny and accountability that can prevent big telecommunications companies from expanding data cap limits when people are more dependent than ever on an internet connection. Even during the pandemic, Comcast and other internet service providers still enforce these data caps in markets where they face little or no competition.
About Half the Public Thinks Local Governments Should Be Able to Pursue Their Own Broadband Network Build-Outs
As the pandemic continues to underscore the importance of reliable, at-home internet service, debate rages over whether local governments should be permitted to build out and run their own broadband networks, either on their own or with the help of a private partner. The White House, in its infrastructure proposal released earlier this month, has thrown its support behind allowing municipalities to explore such options.
To truly unleash the power of localized broadband deployment, we should ensure all community-based providers have a seat at the table.
Timing of $7 Billion E-Rate Expansion Has Education Advocates Eyeing Long-Term Connectivity Planning Over Quick Fixes
The latest COVID-19 relief package includes over $7 billion to expand E-rate to better tackle students’ at-home internet needs. But with the dollars doled out so far into the crisis and the end of the school year fast approaching, expectations for how the additional funding will be spent have shifted among school officials and advocates from getting quick fixes, like mobile hotspots, to more long-term projects that will ensure that schools can sustain the progress they’ve made to become more digital-learning friendly.
According to a new Morning Consult poll, 27 percent of Black, Hispanic and other non-white adults who make less than $50,000 annually said they have missed at least one internet bill payment since January 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak started spreading in the United States, compared to 16 percent of lower-income white adults.
With President-elect Joe Biden and his to-be-determined administration preparing to take office in January, broadband and consumer advocates are optimistic about the prospects of modernization reforms for Lifeline and other federal programs aimed at making internet and phone services more affordable under a potentially Democratic-led Federal Communications Commission.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright spotlight on the fact that we still need to connect all Americans with the best possible broadband, no matter whether they live in urban or rural areas or upper or lower-income neighborhoods. The problem is that too many have a shortsighted view of what “the best broadband” means. To some, it means “just good enough” – speeds or latency that may appear okay today but will fall short tomorrow.