US lawmakers look toward broadband expansion to answer pandemic problems

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch D-Vt.) and other members of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee in the House of Representatives discussed how to expand the reach of broadband in America.

“There’s total support to get affordable and accessible broadband throughout America,” Welch said.

Free Press Action Policy Vice President Matthew Wood says the challenge is motivating service providers.

“What we’re seeing now though is that their investment has been going down for the last few years. Their profits and subscriber numbers and revenues are going up,” Wood said.

“We need to get infrastructure in place in order to do it and we need to do it responsibly,” Wireless Infrastructure Association President Jonathan Adelston said.

Adelston says it’s on Congress to expand broadband so schools and rural and developing areas don’t face the same issues they did during the pandemic.

“We need smart policy to build out 5G and close the digital divide,” Adelston said.

Republicans and Democrats agree that the coronavirus showcased that many parts of the country are long overdue for high-speed internet. Many Americans are working from home or going to school virtually during the pandemic.

“Enable providers to have the necessary flexibility to respond quickly to the increased traffic,” Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said.

Latta says the work already done by Congress will help long-term expansion. However, Welch says more pressure from the government could bring faster results.

“If it’s not profitable for a company, whether it’s this company or another one, they’re not going to invest. So there has to be some federal role here,” Welch said.

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