Having personally experienced the need for universal, reliable, affordable broadband firsthand, I completely agree with Proposition 1.
When I came to the Upper Valley as an interim pastor eight years ago, I had so many problems with internet service at the parsonage that I searched out the nearest service building for the local provider and left messages on the door pleading for help. Since then, after purchasing a place in a rural area, I’ve had to get by with a $70 a month WiFi contraption that doesn’t provide enough data for streaming.
But these are mere irritations compared to what many have had to face — especially during the pandemic. It must have been horrendous for many — trying to arrange for kids to do their schoolwork, to work remotely, to make a tele-medicine appointment, or to sign up for a COVID vaccination.
Such needs are too important for us to accept service that’s frequently interrupted, priced out of the reach of many, and completely unavailable to others.
While Vermont should do everything possible to improve the situation, what’s needed is a national response! During the Great Depression, America affirmed the principle of universal service — that everyone should have access to communications services. That was the core of the Communications Act of 1934 that established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and assured that telephone service became available everywhere. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 expanded universal service to include affordable high-speed internet access but, clearly, more must be done.
If a depression-stricken country could recognize that access to telephone service had become a basic right and embark on a bold program to deliver it, we can do the same with today — with universal access to the internet! Vermonters should tell their state and national representatives to work together to make it happen.