Access to fast, reliable broadband is critical to households, businesses, and communities in the modern economy. The ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency has underscored the necessity of broadband access for critical services like distance learning, remote work, telehealth, and commerce.
Expanding broadband access and increasing affordability have been top policy priorities for Governors. As the necessity of internet access has rapidly grown over the past three decades, states have established and modified a variety of best practices to increase the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic has added an immediate urgency to provide internet access so that people can continue to work, attend school, and access critical services virtually while abiding by telework requirements, required distance learning, and stay at home orders necessitated by public health guidance. This rapid mobilization has taxed systems and agencies, creating a tension between the need to balance short-term fixes with longer-term investments and more permanent infrastructure projects. The strategies laid out in this paper demonstrate how Governors are tackling these challenges and the emerging best practices for expanding affordable broadband access.
“The need for greater federal investment in the nation’s broadband infrastructure has never been more apparent. Even as more government services, business opportunities, and educational activities move online, too many of our residents have been left on the wrong side of the digital divide by insufficient or unaffordable connectivity. Connectivity is essential to unleashing economic potential, promoting job growth, and ensuring small business participation in the digital economy. We need ubiquitous, affordable broadband to truly unlock the potential of new technologies for healthcare advancement and smart infrastructure.”
Highspeed internet not only attracts businesses, entrepreneurs, and economic growth, but also enables workers to access training and gain new skills through virtual learning opportunities. In response to increased demand for online learning, telecommuting, telehealth, and the delivery of other essential services, closing the digital divide has emerged as a major topic of interest for many state leaders.
As schools, colleges, and universities across the country shutter for a few weeks, months, or until next semester due to COVID-19, many institutions are switching to virtual instruction and support services. Though this is a helpful tool to keep education moving during the shut-down, there are some challenges that governors can address including the fact that students and faculty may not have access to reliable broadband…
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the nation, states are taking sweeping actions to restrict individuals from congregating and encouraging self-quarantine to flatten the curve of the virus. One of the key strategies in this effort is using telehealth – allowing individuals to receive virtual care – which can reduce the spread of the virus and expand health care capacity by keeping potentially ill individuals in their homes, reducing exposure of health care workers, and reducing the number of people needing care in facilities.
Across the United States, American Job Centers (AJCs) provide a range of assistance to job seekers, students, and businesses. Due to COVID-19, they have had to readjust their delivery methods. Governors, state agencies and private partnerships play important support roles for increasing AJCs’ ability to create a remote service delivery system that meets the needs of job seekers, students, and businesses. This memo outlines strategies governors and states can implement to deliver workforce system employment and training services remotely.
Governors Discuss Broadband Access And Education
In this 2020 Winter Meeting session Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Colorado Governor Jared Polis lead a discussion on the importance of reliable broadband access for all areas of their states to support education and economic development.
This webinar features a presentation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on rural broadband deployment programs and resources. The webinar focuses on these programs’ relevancy to governors’ offices, share best practices, and offer actions governors can consider to support program applications in their state.
This May 2008 Issue Brief reviews state efforts to expand broadband access by offering examples of implementation strategies. In addition, it highlights how broadband access can spur economic
development and improve quality of life.