The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology just wrapped its hearing on closing the digital divide. House Republicans focused on their solutions in the Boosting Broadband Connectivity Agenda they released yesterday.
KEY: “Unreliable internet and limited broadband access has set countless children back in school because of connectivity issues while far too many schools remain closed. It’s unacceptable and hurting the next generation. To make a strong comeback from this pandemic, every House Republican on Energy and Commerce is leading in the Boosting Broadband Connectivity Agenda so America closes the digital divide. This agenda will help get education back on track and promote economic opportunity for all Americans across the entire country.” — Leader Rodgers and Communications and Tech Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta.
The Boosting Broadband Connectivity Agenda will turbocharge public and private investment by promoting new and upgraded infrastructure deployments, boosting competition, streamlining permitting processes, facilitating broadband deployment on federal lands, and closing the digital divide in both rural and urban areas.
Why is this necessary?
For rural communities in Rep. Bob Latta’s district:
“Republicans want all Americans, including children, to have access to quality, high speed broadband that doesn’t rely on hotspots and other quick fix approaches… We should be focusing on reopening our schools and our economy, and broadband access will continue to be essential as we do that. This is how we rebuild America.”
For rural residents in Rep. John Curtis’ District:
“We talk about the digital divide and I’m sure we’ve all seen it, but I can’t imagine any space where that digital divide is more relevant than down in Southeast Utah, where we’ve got the Navajo reservation… my school district has done an amazing job on a temporary basis with mobile hotspots and getting broadband as close as they can to homes, but we need help… so we can get into these students’ homes and give them the help that they need.”
For rural Pennsylvanians in Rep. John Joyce’s district:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the many issues within the communities that I have the honor to represent. Perhaps one of the biggest problems is the lack of rural broadband in many portions of my district. As the pandemic raged, and forced businesses and schools to operate remotely, the need for reliable and fast broadband services has never been stronger.”
For Jennifer’s family in Rep. Tim Walberg’s district:
“Recently Jennifer, a constituent of mine from Manchester, Michigan, wrote to me that she has to drive her kids to a nearby business parking lot so the children can complete their school assignments. This is unacceptable and we must continue to work towards preeminent broadband solutions that meet the needs of rural and urban America.”
And for the Fikes family in Rep. Bill Johnson’s District:
“Kim and Jason have four children, the oldest is a senior in high school with autism. Like many families they’ve had to adjust to the added stress of remote learning. The Fikes’ have lived through a nightmare that took a severe mental and physical toll on their family, with disrupted schedules and the added burden of ensuring their children were continuing to learn in a difficult distance learning environment. Chesapeake schools are almost back to normal now with mostly in-class instruction, but sadly that is not true for many children across America, and that’s tragic.”