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Current Telework Methods Not Sufficient, Says FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

Elijah Labby

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Photo of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel by New America used with permission

May 19, 2020 — The current methods of telework are not sustainable, said Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel in a webinar Tuesday.

In a conversation with App Association President Morgan Reed, the commissioner highlighted some of the ways that students without high-speed broadband access at home have adapted in the past. The App Association also goes by the name ACT.

“Before this pandemic, we would have seen them sitting out in the library parking lot to catch a free Wi-Fi signal or doing their homework with a side of fries at a fast-food restaurant that offers a free signal,” she said.

Rosenworcel said that such resources could go a long way, especially while the ongoing pandemic makes connectivity increasingly essential.

“We’ve got to double down on the solutions that will make sure that every student everywhere is connected,” she said.

In addition to where students connect to Wi-Fi, the devices on which they are connecting should be noted, Reed said.

“What’s been fascinating is seeing how many of [my daughter’s] friends are logging on with their smartphone,” he said. “And how many of her friends are logging in with a tablet, something, anything that brings internet into their lives.”

The transition to remote education and employment has left many scrambling to continue their daily lives in areas across the country that do not have high-speed internet. The FCC has handed down millions in nationwide broadband infrastructure grants during the virus's spread.

However, Rosenworcel emphasized that additional Congressional financial support was necessary.

“I’d also like to see, as we move forward, Congress continue to spend time and energy thinking about unlicensed spectrum because unlicensed spectrum is really going to power a lot of wireless activity in the future,” she said.

In addition to funding the expansion of wireless internet, Rosenworcel said, it is also crucial to free up the FCC to determine where resources are best allocated.

”My plea to Congress is make sure that you're putting the appropriate resources into it.”

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