During the Pandemic, the FCC Must Provide Internet for All

from Wired

IF ANYONE BELIEVED access to the internet was not essential prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, nobody is saying that today. With ongoing stay-at-home orders in most states, high-speed broadband internet access has become a necessity to learn, work, engage in commerce and culture, keep abreast of news about the virus, and stay connected to neighbors, friends, and family. Yet nearly a third of American households do not have this critical service, either because it is not available to them, or, as is more often the case, they cannot afford it.

Lifeline is a government program that seeks to ensure that all Americans are connected, regardless of income. Started by the Reagan administration and placed into law by Congress in 1996, Lifeline was expanded by the George W. Bush administration and expanded further during the Obama administration. The program provides a $9.25 a month subsidy per household to low-income Americans for phone and/or broadband service. Because the subsidy is so minimal, most Lifeline customers use it for mobile voice and data services.

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One Response to During the Pandemic, the FCC Must Provide Internet for All

  1. Matthew Pavlik April 29, 2020 at 11:09 pm #

    Here’s a test to decide if something should be a right, and it’s a simple one: Can you live without it happily? That last word is what people will struggle with, from definitions to applications. But, realistically ask and analyze the question in regards to your life. What are the alternatives for people with no internet access (or stable access, as it should be viewed)? Can they go outside and enjoy recreational and leisure activity? No, they can do basically nothing in public. Do they have an alternative to the internet for communication purposes? Outside of data (expensive and also regional) or radio (and I want to see the demographics for who owns a 2 way radio and can use it), there are no reasonable alternatives. For many reasons, I agree with this article. First, the cost to supply these people with internet is infinitesimal compared to the $3 trillion and counting stimulus money that has been dispersed so far. Second, how do you actually expect someone in 2020 to remain mentally healthy being physically separated with few outlets and no internet for an unknown amount of time? That is asking for trouble, and is truly inconsiderate considering that many would not even be able to seek mental help during this time because of quarantines. In a weird way, subsidized internet for all during the pandemic can save lives — plus, with the instant abilities to connect everyone, it SHOULD be looked at as a matter of national defense (from another “invisible enemy”), especially considering the government’s assertions that 5G is a matter of national defense. They’ve practically already said in their actions that fast internet for all helps the nation in every way, so why not take this time to push that forward?

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