This week, three international unions called on congressional leaders in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to invest in universal broadband access. For too long, many communities right here have been left behind in regard to this key piece of internet infrastructure.
Lack of internet access is just one aspect of the inequality we are witnessing today. Corporations are allowed to determine which communities get service, and which do not. And that’s when Pennsylvanians lose out.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is revealing more than ever how essential connectivity is to our society and our economy. Everyone in the country has been affected by this global public health crisis, and workers – not CEOs – are on the frontlines of the fight: teachers providing tele-education to the nation’s students, technicians maintaining networks experiencing increased use in order to ensure service quality, and nurses caring for patients to combat the virus, to name a few.
Congress can support these workers by facilitating connectivity for those staying home, practicing physical distancing in order to flatten the curve. On behalf of our collective 4.4 million members, we write to strongly urge Congress to ensure that future legislation in response to the pandemic encourages universal access to broadband.
Specifically, in order to meet that critical national need, we urge Congress to:
1. Fund broadband infrastructure expansion in un- and under-served areas with strong labor protections for those building and servicing that infrastructure included;
2. Appropriate $4 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund, administered through the FCC’s E-Rate program; And 3. Direct the FCC to create an Emergency Lifeline Broadband Benefit for low-income households of $50 per month to cover the cost of adequate broadband service.