The Digital Divide: Broadband Should be A Universal Right

The Digital Divide: Broadband Should be A Universal Right

One of the main barriers to equitable healthcare, education and economic advancement in our country today is broadband access. The internet is one of the most important modes for people to attend and interact with teachers and classmates, work, find a job, maintain their finances and apply for loans, and receive medical care. This is especially true in this era of coronavirus. The digital divide is beyond concerning - here are some sobering statistics to absorb:   

  • Twenty-one million Americans lack access to high speed Internet, according to the FCC, and in rural communities this jumps to 25%.

  • Nearly one in five students between kindergarten and 12th grade do not have computers or speedy Web connections, according to data compiled by the Pew Research Center in 2018, the latest available, which said this “homework gap” disproportionately plagues low-income families and people of color.

  • States that have fallen furthest behind on broadband access also have some of the highest levels of poverty in the country, impacting everything from education, to healthcare.

  •  Income inequality is at a 50-year high, and many states with the highest poverty levels — Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arkansas — are also the least connected.

In the rurals, access to sufficient broadband will bring immediate advances to tele-medicine, tele-pharmacy, tele-education, commerce, entrepreneurship, and security. This is how we can improve the quality of life of our Tribes and rural communities here in Nevada.

The telecom industry, which has long lobbied against public broadband, invested in state politics across the country over the past decade to the tune of over $174 million. Why? Because they want to keep broadband unregulated. With current lack of regulation, there is no incentive for cable companies to expand into rural and low income areas, where profits are also low.

In 2014, President Obama urged the U.S. government to “adopt tighter regulations on broadband service to preserve ‘a free and open Internet.’" He supported reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service under the Telecommunications Act, so that it could be regulated like a utility. In 2015 it passed 3-2 along party lines. After a few years of court battles with cable companies, a federal court ruled that the 2015 rules were legal.  

Then in 2017, President Trump appointed Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai as the agency's new chair. In April, he announced a plan to reverse the 2015 net neutrality order. The December 2017 FCC vote effectively threw out the 2015 rules in their entirety. This is where we stand today.

Like electricity, broadband should be treated as a right-to-life utility, as it dictates quality of and access to fundamental rights that include healthcare and education. I’m fed up with access being driven by profit margins, and when I get to Washington I will fight for equal access.

I’m fed up with partisanship that ends up dividing us, and denying us of rights and opportunities that should be available to all Americans. I’m fired up to provide the leadership that has been lacking in CD-2, for the good of all northern Nevadans. My role and goal as the Representative of Congressional District #2 is to build Nevada’s future.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: 

  • YouTube

Paid for by Friends of Clint Koble

PO Box 11263

Reno, NV 89510-1263