Press Release Rural Broadband Access

Gene Kimmelman to Testify Before Senate Commerce Committee On Broadband Access During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 13, 2020 , , , , , ,

Public Knowledge Senior Advisor Gene Kimmelman will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation today at 10:00 a.m. His testimony in the hearing on “The State of Broadband Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic” will urge Congress to pass a comprehensive legislative package to ensure that broadband is affordable, reliable, and available universally both during and after the pandemic.

The testimony argues that these efforts should fund reliable and resilient universal deployment, ensure affordability through targeted subsidies and by promoting competition, and collect better data to increase accountability. As the testimony explains, “It’s the only way to ensure that no American gets left behind.”

The following is an excerpt from the testimony:

“Long before the COVID-19 crisis, Americans turned to broadband ‘for every facet of daily life.’ Broadband is critical for everything from finding a job to receiving medical care, connecting with loved ones, learning, engaging in democratic processes, and being entertained. Without broadband, our nation can’t compete economically, advance technologically, or promote the public interest. Unfortunately, this essential service is not available to all Americans.

“Before this crisis, millions found themselves at a disadvantage because of an inability to connect to broadband. Stroke patients in areas with a dearth of neurologists were unable to adhere to American Heart Association recommendations to virtually consult with a physician — potentially jeopardizing their lives. Teenagers reported being unable to complete their homework. Small to medium businesses that could not access global markets through the internet were 30 percent less likely to survive. Moreover, public safety officials could find themselves unable to communicate life-saving information to local residents and even first responders from other jurisdictions.

“[The] digital divide is not a new problem. It is simply an existing problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why Public Knowledge believes it is essential that all Americans have access to affordable broadband both during the COVID-19 crisis and moving forward. Given the essential nature of broadband, Congress must take every step it can to ensure that broadband is affordable, reliable, and universally available. We believe a comprehensive legislative package that addresses these issues will help us get there.”

You may view the testimony here.