March 23, 2020 – Ramping up the pressure to ensure that the stimulus measure in Congress has a broadband component, Free Press released a statement Monday urging Congress to dedicate $100 billion in broadband connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some have criticized the relief bill in Congress for not adequately addressing broadband.
Free Press highlighted the following allocations for the funds:
- $1 billion in immediate funding for the FCC’s existing Lifeline program for increases in minutes and data allowances typically available from the wireless services most Lifeline recipients use, and for the likely influx of people who’ll be laid off or lose their jobs in the coming weeks.
- $25 billion for an expanded Lifeline benefit of up to $50 per month for a home-internet connection that low-income individuals and families could use to get and stay connected.
- $5 billion for expansion of the FCC’s “e-Rate” educational connectivity program to expand school and library Wi-Fi networks into surrounding neighborhoods and to get Wi-Fi hotspots into the hands of students who have no home-internet connections.
- $50 billion for deployment of high-capacity broadband networks in rural and unserved areas to fund the broadband construction that lawmakers so often call for but rarely allocate money for.
“If Congress fails to act, the economic and social impacts of this crisis will be far worse than we dare imagine. Despite the need to act now to get and keep everyone connected, reporting on the COVID relief packages under debate over the weekend suggest that the Senate’s GOP majority is unwilling to help,” said Free Press Research Director Derek Turner.
“What the country needs right now is massive spending to replace lost incomes and to keep society functioning while most people are confined to their homes,” said Turner.
The plan for funding “subsidies, rebates and tax relief targeted toward broadband” is detailed in the Free Press report “Keeping Connected Amid Crisis: Policies to Keep People Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”