That’s a conclusion largely shared by lawmakers in both major parties as they negotiate an infrastructure package. Broadband long ago stopped being a tool for entertainment and convenient communication and became essential to job searching and recruitment, education and telehealth – especially in communities with few doctors. During the pandemic, reliable broadband access became even more important, as people traveled what was once called the “information superhighway” instead of actual highways to get to work and school.
“It’s become sort of a fundamental right, in a way. It’s become a requirement, in some sense, to live our lives – to get educated, to get access to health care, to get to the workplace nowadays,” says Swarun Kumar, who heads Carnegie Mellon University’s Emerging Wireless Technologies Lab. “It’s sort of transformed from being a luxury to being a fundamental utility we all need.”