As businesses, schools, services, state government, and healthcare shift heavily to internet basis, access to broadband shows the gaps between wealth and opportunity becomes a critical issue. Broadband is the new wealth and opportunity gap, and the new social isolation.
No one disagrees. The question is how to bridge the so-called digital divide: incentives to existing carriers to expand service, help to establish Communications Union Districts (CUDs) to create new community-based networks, or organizing and opening up existing resources? My work on the Energy and Technology Committee has been “all of the above”. But the real active question is how much federal money is available (and under what conditions) to help Vermont bridge the gaps.
Broadband is federally regulated, which greatly limits what states can actually do, but the state of emergency has made clear that equity in education and opportunity depend heavily on equal access to the internet.
I have worked successfully on legislation to create the Agency of Digital Services, to create new communications union districts, to protect net neutrality, to increase funding for broadband expansion, and to improve communications for emergency responders.