Public high speed internet for all is a necessity post-Covid

Author: Gladwyn d'Souza | Category: Environment | Health | Date: 06-13-2020


Can you imagine a stay-at-home order without access to high speed internet? According to the New York Times we have all "gone on line and become nicer while staying safe". We hold online birthday parties and figure out how to get food to a disabled neighbor. In Thailand a few days ago there was a massive protest for George Floyd on Zoom! The message from around the world was that "We are all in this fight together." It is a fight against a brutal jackbooted economy of haves and have-nots, an economy of extreme inequality whose vicious means of protecting plunder was exposed by George Floyd while we were all safe indoors. Now consider three essential areas of the internet era- Jobs, Education, and Medicine.

My wife was informed at the beginning of the year that she would be laid off in March. She was glad to take the settlement package figuring she would start looking for a job in April. But weren’t we surprised to be locked into our homes come the end of March. My wife went on line and applied, and to our delight, after going through a bunch of online interviews, she ended up with a job. She started, remotely, at Stanford, on June 1st.  According to a Huffington Post article, The Urban Poor Fear Being Left Behind In the Digital Age Without Internet, in 2017, 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies- including Target and Walmart — only accepted job applications online.       

George Floyd had lost his job prior to being murdered. He was one of the many who needed internet access in order to be safe, and be able to job search so that he could get on with his life. A Washington Post poll found that 20 percent of Hispanic adults and 16 percent of African Americans report being laid off or furloughed since the outbreak began in the United States, compared with 11 percent of whites and 12 percent of workers of other races. We need universal internet access if the jackbooted economy is to be reformed.

My cousin called me in March to find out how she could take her music school online. She said her clients wanted their children’s eduction to continue and were willing to pay for remote lessons. I introduced her to Zoom of course. According to a 2008 study by the Federal Reserve high school students who have broadband internet at home have graduation rates 6 to 8 percentage points higher than students who don’t. Many media publications are now saying that a whole generation of have-not children are going to miss up to three years of their education because of the coronavirus. George Floyd's children should not lack access to quality teaching because of how the monopoly companies have chosen to disinvest in high speed internet in low income zipcodes! Last month a coronavirus program at UC Berkeley featured Dr. Aguilar saying that Public High Speed Internet Access (also known as Internet As A Public Utility) was a necessity today--a necessity for all if they are to overcome some of the brutal effects of a jackbooted economy.

My daughter thought she broke her ankle while running last month. She called the Palo Alto Medical Foundation to see if she needed to make an appointment with the orthopedist, the bone doctor. They said they would first do triage with her on the phone. After a series of tests--rotate your ankle, move your toes toward your knee, etc.--they diagnosed that she had twisted her ankle. She didn’t need to go in and expose herself to the coronavirus. Put the ankle on ice every evening and call us in the morning, they advised. It worked for her. The New York Times PERSONAL HEALTH section featured the following headline recently: A Pandemic Benefit: The Expansion of Telemedicine. George Floyd contracted the virus and was recovering from the long-term-after-effects when he was murdered. He needed access to telemedicine like the rest of us. The jackbooted economy needs mulitple areas of transformation, among which are internet access for all and medicare for all. 

It’s essential for public health that the new economy be one that cares for all in order to prevent pandemics from taking over our lives. According to a May New York Times article 42 million people needed internet access to fight the coronavirus by staying home as an emergency measure. We need to bury the jackbooted economy and nurture up a caring economy. One way to start is with Public High Speed Internet Access for all.

So imagine my joy when I saw that the June meeting of the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors had an agenda item to study the legal ramifications of providing High Speed Internet access for all. Hundreds of communities across the US already provide public internet, so it should be no big deal for Silicon Valley right? I logged into the zoom Board of Supervisors meeting. And after seven hours they finally got to the internet agenda item. I and twelve other people spoke in favor. We represented a mix of  groups advocating for the homeless, for people living in poverty, for housing, for the environment, and for equity. No one spoke against. Then imagine our surprise when only the two supervisors from the San Jose area voted in favor. The ex-senator from Palo Alto, Simitian, and the Supervisor from Los Gatos, Ellenberg, spoke up for the jackbooted economy. We need to revive it first, they said, before we talk about access for all. The item failed on a 3-2 vote. Write your supervisor and ask for Public High Speed Internet Access for all.                                                           

The answer to my earlier question is No, we cannot imagine a stay-at-home order without access to high speed internet. The internet is our Interstate Highway System for the 21st century.



I completely agree with the points made in this article. It is so essential for everyone to be educated on the current events going on around the world. No one should be left behind, and now, especially during this pandemic, having access to internet is one of the only ways of learning new ...Read more information. During the last few months of my school year, all lessons were held over Zoom and my high school provided students without internet access at home with computers and wifi hotspots in order to ensure that everyone would stay caught up during school. 
Not only does high-speed internet allow people to stay educated, it lets us stay connected and safe as well. Crisis prevention programs such as StarVista rely on people messaging or calling them in order to keep people alive. In addition, my school’s wellness counselors were readily accessible through Canvas or emails. I, personally, rely heavily on my friends for support, and being able to send that “hey, I’m doing ok” text once a week or so was so important for me. Although having public high-speed internet for all will definitely be difficult to achieve, it is so necessary and worth it for us to ensure that everyone has access to something so essential Less
Gladwyn d'Souza June 23, 2020 12:44 pm
I agree with you it's an equity issue and everyone needs a equal opportunity at a future. It's a problem that we can solve only if we begin to solve it. Many cities and counties in Indiana, ...Read more Massachusetts etc. have accomplished it already and provide an example to follow. Less
Howard Hong
In this day and age, the internet has become such an integral part of our lives. Nearly everything can be accessed through the internet such as online shopping, food delivery, transportation, telemedicine, and much more. And so, having such access to high-speed internet would prove highly ...Read more beneficial in the way people live their everyday lives. Due to social distancing and the ongoing pandemic, there has been an growing dependence on the the internet. Without high-speed internet, people, specifically students and working individuals would be at an disadvantage. For example, with the Advance Placements exams being administered online, students who had little to no access to high-speed internet were at a severe disadvantage. While there are logistical and financial barriers that prevent this from happening in the near future, local communities, like Gladwyn proposed, should begin to look into and implement public high-speed internet Less
Ethan Matsuda
I agree that especially in times like these, everyone should be provided access to high-speed internet. However it isn't just working adults who are struggling with working from home; many students, like myself, are forced to do at home learning where we need access to high-speed internet. ...Read more Without it, we can't do our work and will inevitably fall behind on learning the curriculum. Especially in high school where students are fighting to get good grades to get into college, it is crucial that every student be provided access to high-speed internet. One way I think that we could achieve this is by lending computers and other necessary materials to low-income students who wouldn't normally have access to them at home. This would give them an equal chance to get their work done and learn while not at school. Aside from the obvious educational benefits, providing internet access to students would also allow them stay connected with their friends and the rest of the world. Interactions and relationships are what make us human, so taking that away can have devastating effects on any persons mental health. Overall, I believe that it is very important that everyone be provided with high-speed internet access because it can allow us to do our work from home, as well as provide us with those crucial human interactions we need Less
Jake Kim
This article truly offered an eye-opening perspective on the status quo. It is unimaginable how disconnected and frustrated one would feel without an internet connection at a time like this, as even I, who had occasionally dealt with unstable internet connections, have felt extremely sequestered ...Read more and even a little anxious. Without internet access, we are not only limited from our obligations, such as homework and jobs, but also social connections, which is especially important for growing teens. I think that one-way internet can be accessed by all is by providing low-income families with internet hotspots. This was done by the San Mateo Union High School District for those who could not access the internet and proved to be effective, other than the fact that there were not enough hotspots for all families. People may argue that free handouts as such would be too costly to maintain. While this may be true, I believe that it will benefit all in the long run, as it can eventually bridge the gap between the lower- and middle-class, as it provides opportunities that weren't accessible by the poor before Less
Zoe Byun
I definitely agree with the points made in this article. High-speed internet is very essential for many people (especially during this unprecedented time). Not having stable internet access is clearly a disadvantage for students as well as those who have been working from home. Some may say that ...Read more there should not be free service to all, but I think that argument is flawed in many different ways. This generation relies heavily on modern technology where it has almost become a necessity. Therefore, it is only fair that everybody is able to access high-speed internet with much more ease Less
Tommy Zeng
High-speed internet is essential to anyone, from people who want to just enjoy some quality entertainment to those who require it for proper education. High-speed internet for all, however, is very hard to achieve. I know plenty of people who still have plenty of issues with the internet when they ...Read more live int the center of technology, the silicon valley. To implement high-speed internet access to all, we will need massive economic investments to even have the internetwork where it is available now, let alone places where the internet doesn't exist. I like the idea, but we have to realize how hard it is to achieve such deeds. Less
Rachel Liu
I strongly agree with what Gladwyn argues in this blog post! Especially during this COVID-19 time, high-speed internet is necessary for everyone, ranging from students who are learning from home, employees who need to work from home, to people who are involved in social events and want to stay ...Read more connected to others. When my school shut down, my school did offer wifi hotspots and computers to those who could not afford them, which was extremely generous and necessary, because all learning transitioned online after my school's lockdown. Less
Ryan Yang
I strongly agree with the points discussed in this article. I can further see the importance of high-speed internet as it could also provide education to students like myself during a stay-at-home order. In order to better prepare for the future of this nation, students must be prepared to take on ...Read more the work that is expected of them to improve the state of our country, such as its economy and its public health system. Also, students must be given the proper education to efficiently adjust to the new circumstances in life surrounding the continuing risks of the coronavirus. It is difficult, however, to say that everyone will have access to the internet. One suggestion I have is that schools form a system where computers and other necessary materials are distributed to students who do not have such necessities. When my school was forced to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this is what the administration decided to do in order to provide education while students stayed at home. Of course, there will be some individuals and groups that do not embrace the idea of fully relying on high-speed internet. The main concern that bothers me most is the gradually decreasing interaction between people. I understand that it will be more difficult to engage with friends and other peers due to the virus, but I worry that human relationships will become weaker and that society will be more disconnected. Interaction over the internet is certainly not the same as face-to-face encounters, and, with a more efficient and high-speed internet, a greater number of people will likely become more comfortable with technology-based interactions even after the lockdown is over. Less
Kylee Kim
I very much agree with the argument that everyone should be provided with high-speed internet. The current pandemic has made it evidently clear that technology is an essential item that assists people in their everyday lives, but lots of people don't have access to this current necessity. By ...Read more giving it to people without charge, there is not only equal opportunity for learning information, but there is also the ability to give people healthcare with at-home doctors appointments and even distanced school learning. Even though we sometimes treat technology as a bad thing, it has given us so many new ways to stay connected and healthy during the pandemic and has provided people with excellent alternatives to keep themselves safe. Without access to such the internet, there are so many disadvantages people might come across but this can be solved if internet is given to everybody. Less

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