CONNECTICUT, USA — Governor Ned Lamont announced on Tuesday he will be proposing legislation during the 2021 regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly that would make broadband internet more accessible to residents, particularly to people in underserved homes.
Though broadband access has become more and more important over the last several years, due to COVID-19 Governor Lamont says the digital divide has gotten even further.
“These days, access to the internet means access to healthcare services, educational opportunities, and jobs,” Governor Lamont said. “Thousands of people in our state do not have access to what has now become an essential utility. We must treat access to the internet similar to the way we treat access to all of our utilities because in the modern world lack of internet access means people are held back from advancing economically, and it can even put their own health at risk. Unless we address our unserved broadband challenges in our urban, suburban, and rural areas, we will not have equitable access for all and achieve the economic recovery that we need.”
The Governor's office cites a survey from 2018 that found 23 percent of residents in Connecticut do not have internet access. This includes 21 percent of white homes, 35 percent of Hispanic homes, and 34 percent of African-American homes.
The legislation will include the following key initiatives:
- Increasing access to high-speed broadband internet through building out all unserved areas
- Reduce the exorbitant cost of building broadband internet across the state
- Streamline agency efforts to make sure effective creation and coordination of goals and standards
- Establish better consumer protections for consumers across Connecticut by giving oversight of complaints to PURA
Governor Lamont's administration has prioritized internet access to residents in the last year. In December, some 60,000 Connecticut families got online and introduced 160 internet hotspots around the state to help kids from kindergarten to 12th grade due to the Governor's Everybody Learns Initiative.