For Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, the moment is now to get the US on the right track toward ending the digital divide. That’s what she’s been trying to do with an influx of federal money aimed at getting Americans connected to the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The crisis, which has hit low-income Americans and people of color especially hard, has brought attention to the digital divide and has spurred Congress to act, Rosenworcel said in an interview with CNET earlier this month.
“Out of crisis is opportunity,” she said. “With this crisis, we’ve ended the days where we talk about broadband as a ‘nice-to-have.’ Policymakers everywhere now understand it’s a ‘need-to-have’ for everyone across this country.”CNET DAILY NEWSStay in the know. Get the latest tech stories from CNET News every weekday.
In addition to highlighting the problem that millions of Americans don’t have access to broadband at all, the pandemic has revealed that millions of Americans aren’t connected because they simply can’t afford their broadband bills. As it became clear last year that Americans needed broadband to do everything from go to work to attend school to access health care during the pandemic, Congress committed federal COVID relief dollars to provide subsidies to millions of Americans to keep them online.