June 29, 2020
Today, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Emergency Broadband Connections Act, a bill that would provide free or discounted internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would be available to students enrolled in the National School Lunch or Pell Grant programs, as well as anyone who was recently laid off, furloughed, or qualified for the Lifeline program. The bill would also require Lifeline phone providers to offer unlimited talk and data so low-income subscribers do not have to ration their telecommunications needs during the pandemic.
The following quote can be attributed to Joshua Stager, senior counsel for New America’s Open Technology Institute:
“For months, millions of Americans have suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic without internet connectivity. It’s unconscionable that Congress hasn’t passed any laws to help these people get access to the internet. We applaud Senator Wyden for stepping up and introducing this bill. We are especially grateful that he added Pell Grant recipients to the bill, ensuring that low-income college students—many of whom have lost their housing and work-study jobs—don’t fall through the cracks.”
The following quote can be attributed to Amy Laitinen, director of New America’s Higher Education Policy program:
“During this pandemic, if students can’t get online, students can’t learn. This means that millions of students without internet access are being shut out and left behind. That is unacceptable. We thank Senator Wyden for introducing this bill to help provide reliable internet access to students of all ages. We are especially grateful that the bill recognizes that low-income college students—many of whom are taking on debt to pay for classes that are now online—need access, too.”