Today, 19 of every 20 U.S. households have access to America’s world-class broadband offerings, thanks to $60 billion a year in investments by broadband providers to upgrade and expand their networks. Of the 5 percent of homes not yet connected, most are in rural areas that won’t get broadband without government support to incentivize providers to build networks there.
The Federal Communications Commission has done its part by revamping the Universal Service Fund so it will provide subsidies for rural broadband (in addition to its traditional focus on telephone service). Congress can help by making sure the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service focuses its broadband funds on under-served rural areas, rather than wasting them on suburban communities that already have service.
Many unemployed veterans also could benefit from new programs that offer low-cost broadband service and computers to qualifying low-income families. Comcast’s Internet Essentials, the largest such initiative, has brought about 400,000 people broadband in just its first year.
By working together, government and industry can help veterans get good jobs and help America fill its growing need for qualified tech workers. That’s a good deal all around.
Anthony T. Hawkins
Congressional Black Caucus