WASHINGTON, DC] – At a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) emphasized the need for more federal action to expand affordable, reliable internet access to all Americans. Blumenthal praised Connecticut’s goal to ensure every home is connected to broadband in six years and questioned witnesses about necessary federal actions to help meet this goal.
“In Connecticut, our governor has set an ambitious but necessary goal of connecting every home to broadband in less than six years. I say necessary, because this pandemic has shown broadband is an essential need, not a luxury, not a convenience. We need to take broadband as seriously as we do access to electricity or water or any of the utilities that sometimes we take for granted until we don’t have them, as the people of Texas recently saw,” said Blumenthal at today’s hearing.
Blumenthal emphasized the prevalence of the digital gap in states like Connecticut and stressed the urgent need to act, saying: “[T]his issue affects suburban, urban, as well as rural communities and overlooking the city of Hartford or Waterbury, Stamford, New Haven, big cities or their suburbs, is to ignore seniors and communities of color which often lack access to broadband. It also ignores the digital divide that separates those communities from others in our state, even a small state like Connecticut can suffer from this kind of homework gap or digital divide.”
Blumenthal questioned witnesses – University of Virginia professor of media studies Dr. Christopher Ali and Quadra Partners’ Jon Wilkins – about the existing digital divide and actions the federal government should take, asking: “Can you tell me more about how broadband grants would help states, specifically like Connecticut, to ensure that all households including those in cities and suburbs have access to high speed broadband?” Both witnesses agreed that state-tailored, targeted programs would help expand broadband access to underserved communities.
Blumenthal has long supported efforts to expand broadband access and is a co-sponsor of the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act. The legislation would invest over $94 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities to close the digital divide and ensure all Americans have fast, reliable, and affordable internet connectivity.
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