This pandemic has been the Great Revealer. It’s exposing so many inequities in our society, and it’s affecting nearly every aspect of our lives.
One issue that I’m hearing a lot about from Ohioans is how many still don’t have access to reliable, affordable broadband internet. It’s either not available where they live, or it’s too expensive.
This was an issue before the coronavirus — and it’s only gotten worse, as everything from work to school to family birthday parties has moved online. People need broadband to apply for unemployment, to order groceries, and even to have a telemedicine appointment.
That’s why I’m introducing the Emergency Broadband Connections Act.
My bill would give a monthly stipend to pay for internet access to low-income Ohioans and Ohioans who were laid off because of the pandemic.
And it would also help provide funding for computers or tablets to eligible households, to ensure that these families have the devices they need to look for a job, complete online homework assignments, or see a doctor.
The digital divide is real, and it’s hurting the same people who always get left behind — Black and brown Ohioans, low-income Ohioans, and our rural communities.
As we talk about ways to both get through this pandemic, and build a more just country that works for everyone, internet access must be part of our efforts.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.