As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote for The Verge last March, as many as one in three US households doesn’t have broadband internet access, currently defined as just 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up — which feels like the bare minimum for a remote learning family these days. Even before the pandemic, that statistic might have been shocking; now, it’s the difference between whether millions of schoolchildren can attend classes and do their homework or not. Nearly 12 million children don’t have a broadband connection at home, the Senate Joint Economic Committee reported in 2017. And the “homework gap” hits harder if you’re poor, of course: only 56 percent of households with incomes under $30,000 had broadband as of last February, according to the Pew Research Center.
What would it actually take to get viable, affordable internet to each and every household in America? 5 billion? 10 billion? Great. I say pay it. ISP’s are required utility like clean water and electricity, they should be treated as such, rather than for profit companies hiding, lobbies, and defeating efforts for access at every turn.