Press Release Tech Policy in the Pandemic Rural Broadband Access

Public Knowledge Joins 39 Groups Urging Congress to Include Broadband Subsidy in Stimulus Bills

December 8, 2020 , , , , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge joins 39 other public interest, government, civil rights, labor, higher education, and rural advocacy groups in a letter urging Congress to offer a federal broadband subsidy in forthcoming COVID-19 stimulus packages.

In the letter, Public Knowledge and other organizations argue that tens of millions of Americans — particularly low-income families, rural residents, and people of color — lack broadband access, leaving our most vulnerable communities struggling to stay connected with school, work, healthcare, entertainment, and their loved ones during the pandemic. Additionally, many more people find themselves unable to afford broadband because of the financial impacts of COVID-19, with thirty percent of low-income Black, Hispanic and people of color claiming that they have missed an internet payment since the pandemic started.

If Congress wants to help people stay connected and engaged from home, then lawmakers should make it possible for every American to do so. Public Knowledge urges Congress to enact policies that fund a federal broadband subsidy in forthcoming COVID-19 stimulus legislation.

The following can be attributed to the letter:

“While universal deployment is important, high prices are the most significant and immediate barrier to bridging this connectivity divide.  Promoting affordability through the stimulus package will ensure that people get connected now.

“The United States House of Representatives has already acted twice to help ensure that everyone has access to an affordable broadband connection. By passing the HEROES Act, the House voted to help low-income families and those financially impacted by COVID-19 afford broadband by providing them with a $50 subsidy, and to prohibit internet service providers from disconnecting customers unable to pay their bills. Now, the Senate must take action if they want communities to connect to broadband.

“We urge Congress to not overlook the fact that providing a broadband subsidy will quickly connect millions of people to this vital service. It is, perhaps, the single most impactful way to get our communities connected during the pandemic.”

You may view the letter here.