Administration Says Broadband Access a Key for Re-Opening Communities

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drafted a strategy as part of White House efforts to reopen parts of the country. The Washington Post reports that broadband availability for e-commerce and students is part of the plan.

A draft strategy, obtained by the Post, is part of a larger White House effort to draft a national plan to get Americans out of their homes and back to work. It gives guidance to state and local governments on how they can ease mitigation efforts, moving from drastic restrictions such as stay-at-home orders in a phased way to support a safe reopening.  

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he plans to speak with all 50 governors “very shortly” and would then begin authorizing individual governors to implement a reopening plan at a specific time and date for each state. 

As part of the section on “Economic Recovery through Support for Local Businesses & Schools,” the plan is to offer high speed internet access for every family with students enrolled in K-12 public schools. It also plans to make investments to support “robust, engaged, telework for small businesses” and “free technical assistance or access to subsidized consultants to help establish on-line commerce platforms, train business owners and staff to operate in an e-commerce environment and adjust business models for a new economy.”

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society said, “As we have seen since the beginning of this pandemic, high-speed broadband access is an essential tool to help us achieve effective social distancing to fight the spread of the virus,” said Adrianne Furniss, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Executive Director. “With robust broadband connections, Americans can learn remotely, work remotely, and monitor health remotely.”

“We need a national strategy to ensure High-Performance Broadband reaches everywhere and everyone to improve our ability to social distance in future waves, and enable businesses and workers to get back to work more quickly,” Furniss added. “Our pathway out of this pandemic demands no less. 

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