Attorney General Phil Weiser leads bipartisan effort of 39 state attorneys general in urging Congress to fund expanded access to broadband
Access critical for those studying, working, and seeking healthcare from home during COVID-19
May 21, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.) — Attorney General Phil Weiser today led a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in urging Congress to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity necessary to participate in telemedicine, teleschooling, and telework as part of any legislation that provides relief and recovery resources related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
As U.S. residents know after weeks of learning, working, socializing, and seeking healthcare from home during COVID-19, internet access is critical for basic needs.
“For over the last 20 years, I have worked on broadband policy to address the threat of a world of information haves and information have nots. That threat is now more real than ever. If this challenge is not addressed, we are likely to see a generation of students suffer from a lack of action to address the digital divide, or homework gap, as it is often called,” said Weiser. “We will do all we can in Colorado to address this imperative, but we ultimately need a national solution to protect and support a group of at-risk students and individuals.”
Although the attorneys general lauded independent efforts of various companies to increase access by waiving late fees or even providing free or discounted access to students and medical providers, such efforts are not sustainable. Ultimately, the attorneys general argue, we need a national solution.
Unless Congress acts quickly, disparities in access to home internet connectivity will exacerbate existing gaps in educational and health outcomes along lines of geography, economic resources, and race. In a letter sent to congressional leaders, the attorneys general urge Congress to:
- Provide state, territorial, and local governments with adequate funding expressly dedicated to ensuring that all students and patients, especially senior citizens who are at risk, have adequate internet-enabled technology to participate equally in online learning and telemedicine.
- Increase funding to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission Universal Service Fund, which provides funding to rural and low-income areas, healthcare providers, and educators.
With public health experts warning that a second wave of coronavirus infections may require teleschooling and telemedicine to continue for millions of Americans throughout 2020, it is critical that Congress act now to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity they need to access educational opportunities, healthcare, and to earn a livelihood.
Because of this widespread support from the states, the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has adopted this position as official policy, a strong effort for expanded broadband throughout the country.
Contact: Lawrence Pacheco
Director of Communications
Mobile: (720) 245-4689