The FCC Discusses Expanding Coverage in Rural Communities

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ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR-TV) — In June, Congressman Anthony Brindisi and members of The Rural Broadband Task Force introduced a new bill called the accessible, affordable internet for all act.

“This bill includes $80 billion to bring broadband to rural areas and $5 billion for K-12 distance learning. It also cuts internet bills by $50 per month for customers impacted by recent lay-offs due to COVID-19. This bill was also included in the invest in America Act. The infrastructure package that recently passed the house of representatives in July.” – Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) NY-22

The infrastructure bill will create a better oversight for large cable companies and help ensure that customers are getting the internet speeds they pay for. Since the pandemic, many Central New York households have struggled to keep strong internet connections, making it challenging to complete work on time. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says their agency should prioritize areas with distance learning.

“We also need to understand there’s some segments of our population that are going to need service really fast. I think the homework gap which is kids that don’t have internet access at home, and can’t do their schoolwork, is now really a national tragedy because so many students are not going to be able to go physical school buildings this year.” – Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Commissioner

In 1996 the FCC created the E-Rate program. It’s the nation’s largest education technology program that helps every school get broadband service. Due to COVID-19, classrooms have migrated online and Jessica says it’s time for the FCC to update the E-Rate program.

“Connect every student at home who doesn’t have a broadband connection. With things like WiFi hotspots, and other modems and other services and I just think that with school starting in a few weeks all across this country and so many students being asked to go to a digital classroom, we don’t want anyone locked out of that classroom.” – Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Commissioner

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