PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Letter to Senate Commerce Chairman and Ranking Member on Broadband DATA Act and Broadband Access During COVID-19

By at 19 May, 2020, 10:48 am

The Honorable Roger Wicker

555 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Maria Cantwell

511 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell:

All Americans are struggling to adapt to the social and economic challenges associated with COVID-19. Where possible, small businesses and entrepreneurs have met this moment by adopting significant public health and safety precautions to continue to serve their communities and provide essential goods and services. Unfortunately, many small businesses owners have had to suspend all operations at great personal cost and sacrifice. Without immediate support and bold action, small businesses across the country will be forced to close their doors for good.

Creative solutions and Congressional leadership are desperately needed during this period of deep anxiety and uncertainty. As such, there is no better time to undertake a widespread and concerted effort to finally close our country’s digital divide by investing in expanded broadband coverage to unserved Americans.

The spread of COVID-19 has shown that access to reliable, digital infrastructure is essential for modern life. Where broadband access is robust, small businesses have further embraced internet tools and platforms in order to operate virtually and meet customers where they are. Many have been able to move to an e-commerce model, seamlessly make payroll and pay bills, and more effectively communicate with customers and employees alike. In addition, internet access has been a lifeline for students engaged in distance learning, parents working from home and patients who have been able to take advantage of tele-health services. But as you know, there are still many Americans – especially in rural areas – that cannot count on quality connectivity.

The progress industry partners have made to date in broadband infrastructure deployment has made communities and businesses with access to reliable connectivity more resilient to some of the negative consequences of the pandemic. Similarly, the work of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to compile data on underserved households and geographic areas should be applauded. However, the COVID-19 crisis has shown that we must take new steps to create a more accurate and effective national broadband program.

Part of this effort should include addressing the accuracy of the existing FCC broadband map. That is why I am encouraged by the recent enactment of the Broadband DATA Act. Funding this legislation will help ensure vital resources are committed to the communities that need it the most during the crisis and beyond.

We can save our country’s small businesses by empowering them with reliable, broadband internet access. In the long-run, this will help underserved communities become more competitive and appealing for business investment, entrepreneurial undertakings and growth opportunities.

Your continued leadership on this issue will give Americans access to the digital tools they will need to see themselves through this public health and economic crisis and to prosper in the future. Thank you for your work on this critical issue for small businesses, and all Americans.

Sincerely,

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO

 

CC:  Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation

 

 

 

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