Editorial: Government Must Hold the Reins on Broadband Expansion

The editorial below was written by Local 1104 Political Coordinator Nick Hoh for the Albany Times Union:
Even before the pandemic, access to high-speed internet was crucial to getting ahead in the 21st-century economy. But as much of life moved remotely due to COVID-19, this need became even more acute as businesses, school districts, and residents began to understand the significant barriers they faced to getting online.
Kids were unable to tune into remote learning at home. Seniors could not make virtual medical appointments. Parents struggled to log in to their jobs.
In Washington, after months of debate and stalemate, President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill has finally been signed into law. In addition to including funding for projects like public transit, roads and highways, $65 billion will go to expanding broadband access, which could be a game-changer for the nine million New Yorkers who currently lack an affordable, 21st-century internet connection.
Though providing money to states is crucial, we know that funding doesn’t automatically lead to coverage. We still have millions of New Yorkers without a reliable connection despite years of building our broadband network. That is because for decades, we have left it to market competition and telecommunications companies to decide who is deserving of broadband, which left out far too many communities.