The humanitarian and economic crises caused by COVID-19 have made it impossible to deny our nation’s deep systemic inequalities. Among them is the fact that millions of people lack affordable high-speed internet and other essential communications services.
Across the country, millions of people are making painful personal sacrifices. An almost unimaginable number have lost their jobs. We need affordable broadband and phone service to access critical telehealth services, apply for unemployment benefits, get counted in the census, participate in distance learning, stay in touch with loved ones and so much more.
The cost of broadband is so high and the ISPs’ policies are so discriminatory that even before this crisis began and millions lost their sources of income, more than one-fifth of households nationwide didn’t have home internet. Prior to the pandemic, only 56 percent of households making less than $20,000 had home broadband, with low-income Black and Hispanic households even less likely to have home internet than their low-income white counterparts.
This is unacceptable. Our lives and livelihoods are on the line.
Internet and phone access should be affordable public services — like water and electricity. We demand that you provide the billions of dollars needed to get and keep people connected to broadband and phone services during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.