We have come to rely on the internet as a critical part of our personal and professional lives. Many now work from home, our kids are doing distance learning, and we are increasingly aware that internet services that were maybe “good enough” before the pandemic are falling short.
We need broadband internet for all. Two roadblocks to this are affordability and availability.
In terms of affordability, grant programs exist to pay for the internet for low-income families who don’t already have it. This safety net doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t cover enough people, and it doesn’t address accessibility. Grants fund the cheapest option and also do not cover improving the speed or bandwidth of current coverage. We can’t take advantage of grant funding unless providers run fiber optic cable all the way out to more rural areas for the offered amount. The quality of internet access in many homes, due to accessibility, affordability, or both, cannot keep up with the demands of working and learning from home.
As restrictions ease, our dependence on reliable high-speed internet won’t fade. Let’s use current funding opportunities to work toward bringing fiber optic cable to all.