O’Halleran Urges Prioritization of Rural, Tribal Broadband Needs During Coronavirus Changes to Work, School

March 23, 2020
Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK—As more Americans begin working and learning from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), more people than ever before are using the internet as their primary mode of communication with jobs and schools. Yesterday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), along with colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee—which has jurisdiction over electronic communications and the internet—sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging prioritization of funding for programs that improve and expand access to broadband in rural, tribal, and underserved areas in the next legislative package to address the negative effects of the coronavirus.

“Currently, over 20 million Americans lack access to quality internet at home, including as many as 12 million children. An astounding 36% of tribal households lack access to any wired broadband,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “The transition to online learning and teleworking in the wake of this global pandemic has reinforced the need for high-speed internet in rural, tribal, and underserved communities across our nation.”

In the letter, O’Halleran presses for the next legislative package to address:

  • student access to internet-capable devices at home to increase connectivity, such as computers, laptops, and hotspots;
  • affordability of broadband services for families and households and accessibility of telehealth resources;
  • potential coronavirus-related disruptions to payment for telecommunication services, especially in areas with already limited high-speed internet, and;
  • the availability of spectrum resources for first responders to maintain the public safety of over 90 million Americans.

“As we move into a temporarily uncertain future, we must work to ensure that all Americans can continue their lives as normally as possible, and this includes continuing to work and attend school from home,” continued O’Halleran. “It is critical that Americans can stay connected, no matter their zip code.”

The letter was signed by Congressman Mike Doyle (PA-18), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, along with Reps. Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL).

View the full letter, here.