In Thompson Falls, Montana, schools practically came to a halt in the spring of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced children to learn remotely in a region where high-speed internet is almost nonexistent. In Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the hospital was forced to transfer emergency room patients roughly 75 miles away to Las Cruces because a loss of connectivity meant it could not properly diagnose them. And in Cleveland and other large cities, access to broadband varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, often based on affluence.
Indeed, even before the pandemic, which to a great extent restricted most Americans to their homes for quite a long time, networks that needed dependable high velocity web started falling behind those that were very much associated. The pandemic exacerbated the country’s “advanced separation” – and the individuals who endured most were in low-pay regions, a Daily Reuters examination of government and private area information found
Washington and some internet providers are trying to solve the problem by expanding access, but experts and lawmakers haven’t settled on what specifically needs to be done, even as President Joe Biden and Republican lawmakers want to invest billions into a broadband-expansion effort
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Social distancing restrictions forced businesses, schools and governments to conduct day-to-day functions online. As a result, tens of millions found their lack of high-speed internet a barrier that’s likely to worsen as the nation accelerates its transition to electronic forms of communication and commerce.