Two great ideas: submit ideas to mitigate impact of COVID-19 & free broadband for all

Sometimes two great ideas hit your email at the same time – like peanut butter and chocolate. After a morning of reading pleas on social media for everyone to stay home, someone sent me an article by Harold Feld from Public Knowledge – Want to Keep America Home? Give Everyone Free Basic Broadband. (Inherent in that idea is that everyone has a home – but that’s a larger topic for a different blog.)

Feld’s idea is straightforward…

Medical experts agree that the most important thing we can do to support the efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak is a medical protocol known by the acronym STHH, or “Stay the Heck Home.” To keep Americans home, we need everyone to have broadband. It’s really that simple. Without telework, the economy would shut down completely. We would lose half a school year without distance education. But the value of everyone having a residential broadband connection goes well beyond that in the current crisis. Want to keep people off the streets to flatten the curve? Make it possible for them to shop online? Want them to access forms to receive government aid during this economic crisis? Cut down on physical doctor appointments to avoid infecting others? Fill out the 2020 Census so we don’t need armies of Census Takers going door-to-door? That all takes broadband.

But most importantly, human beings are social creatures.

Deploying is pretty simple too…

As part of the coronavirus stimulus package, the United States government will cover everyone’s broadband bill for a basic connection capable of supporting two-way video (ideally 25/25 Mbps, but we may have to settle for the Federal Communications Commission official definition of broadband of 25/3 Mbps).

Everyone is eligible and business bills back (a set and sufficient amount) to the government. The idea makes sense – but as I’ve said so often in the last week – for areas that have access. It make existing broadband affordable. Perhaps this guaranteed take rate would help make a business case work to deploy in new areas, especially if there was state funding to offset construction costs – something like the MN Border to Border gran projects.

The second great idea to hit my in-box? The State of Minnesota is looking for our ideas to support the MN economy during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have a creative idea, it’s a great place to share. Or you may have heard of a good idea, like increase funding to broadband grants, and you could share that too.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, economic development, Funding, MN, Policy and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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