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Op-ed: Boosting Broadband Connectivity for All Americans 


03.19.21

Washington, D.C. Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Republican Leader for Communications and Technology Bob Latta (R-OH) co-authored an op-ed for The Ripon Society on boosting broadband connectivity for all Americans. In case you missed it, you can view an excerpt below or the full op-ed online at The Ripon Society by CLICKING HERE. 

Excerpt from the op-ed: 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s broadband networks have held our economy, our education system, our medical communities through telehealth, and our neighborhoods together. When businesses and schools closed to the public, many Americans had no choice but to work and learn from home. Children began streaming classes as working parents juggled video calls and the responsibility  of childcare. 

Thanks to the light-touch regulatory environment in the United States, our networks adapted to this internet traffic surge. Providers stepped up to the plate by voluntarily offering emergency hotspots for distance learning, opening public Wi-Fi for free, and taking steps to upgrade their networks. Through Republican-led market-oriented policies, we had an existing regulatory environment that facilitated innovation and investment in our networks. This led to increased speeds, extra capacity, and flexibility to adapt when faced with the greatest health and economic crisis of our generation. 

[…] 

Still, we have more work to do. While the pandemic underscored the strength of American broadband networks, it also magnified the lack of reliable and accessible broadband in many parts of the country, in both rural and urban areas. I, Rep. Rodgers, and my family have witnessed this in our own community. When my husband Brian dropped my son Cole’s books off at his school this summer in inner-city Spokane, his teachers told him that a third of students did nothing in remote school. Many were cut off from the classroom because they lacked reliable broadband for hybrid and remote learning. 

The lack of access along with the isolation of virtual learning is challenging for families, and particularly devastating for our young people. A day does not go by that one of us in Congress does not hear from a parent worried about their child falling behind. I, Rep. Latta, have heard from constituents in my district who, due to the lack of quality, high speed broadband, rely on hotspots and other quick fix approaches that do not adequately support their virtual work and learning. This is the case for Sara from Bloomdale, Ohio, who reached out asking what could be done to help her family access a reliable internet connection. Sara and her husband have three boys in elementary school, and the entire family relies on a stable connection in order to work and learn from their home in rural Ohio. 

Note: Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled their Boosting Broadband Connectivity Agenda in February. Upon release they said that, during this pandemic, “Unreliable internet and limited broadband access [have] 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.”  

CLICK HERE for the details on this broadband package. 

CLICK HERE to see what experts and top voices in broadband deployment are saying about the Boosting Broadband Connectivity Agenda. 

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