Klobuchar, Cramer, Welch, Marshall Urge Administration to Support Funding Dedicated to Ensuring Small Broadband Providers Can Sustain Critical Internet Services for Low-Income Families and Students in Future Coronavirus Relief Packages

From Senator Klobuchar…

In letter to the President, lawmakers call on the Administration to support dedicated funding for small broadband providers in the next economic relief package to ensure students and low-income families have critical internet services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS-01) wrote a letter to the President urging the Administration to support dedicated funding for small broadband providers to keep students and low-income families in their communities connected to the internet during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Many small broadband providers have committed to sustaining critical broadband services and upgrades for students and low-income families who cannot afford payment during this public health crisis. But these small broadband providers—which contribute to more than 77,000 jobs and support more than $10 billion in economic activity in the United States—may be unable to continue to provide these services if customers are unable to pay for a prolonged period of time,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Although the CARES Act included funding for rural broadband deployment, it did not include dedicated funding to help small broadband providers sustain services and upgrades for students and low-income families. Without support from your Administration, small providers may be unable to ensure that the communities they serve have access to critical internet connectivity.”

In March, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation to sustain rural broadband connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic. The Keeping Critical Connections Act would appropriate $2 billion for a temporary Keeping Critical Connections fund at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help small broadband providers sustain critical internet services and upgrades for students and low-income families during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Senators Klobuchar and Kevin Cramer and Representatives Peter Welch and Roger Marshall led a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to include dedicated funding to help small broadband providers sustain internet services and upgrades for students and low-income families in any future legislation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The full text of the letter can be found HERE and below:

Dear Mr. President:

As you work with Congress to provide additional economic relief for Americans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, we urge you to support dedicated funding for small broadband providers to keep students and low-income families connected to the internet.

Since the onset of the pandemic, unemployment claims have surged and states across the country have closed schools in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, leaving students and families to rely on internet connectivity to work, learn from home, search for employment, and access telehealth services. Many small broadband providers have committed to sustaining critical broadband services and upgrades for students and low-income families who cannot afford payment during this public health crisis. But these small broadband providers—which contribute to more than 77,000 jobs and support more than $10 billion in economic activity in the United States—may be unable to continue to provide these services if customers are unable to pay for a prolonged period of time.

Although the CARES Act included funding for rural broadband deployment, it did not include dedicated funding to help small broadband providers sustain services and upgrades for students and low-income families. Without support from your Administration, small providers may be unable to ensure that the communities they serve have access to critical internet connectivity.

It is for this reason that we introduced the bipartisan Keeping Critical Connections Act to establish a temporary emergency relief fund at the Federal Communications Commission to help small broadband providers continue providing critical internet connectivity for students and low-income families throughout the pandemic. Our bill has broad bipartisan support, in addition to support from small and rural broadband providers and rural broadband advocates. We now urge you to support the inclusion of this funding in the next expected relief package to ensure that small broadband providers can keep their communities connected at this critical time.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We stand ready to work with you to help small broadband companies provide critical internet connectivity for students and low-income families.

Sincerely,

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, Policy, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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