As the Media Manager for Ronin Technology Advisors, my online presence must be maintained each and every day. All of the work I do happens on my laptop and requires reliable broadband. I am no outlier; remote working is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. A 2016 report by Global Workplace Analytics found 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency. This report is now a year old, and the number of remote workers has certainly grown.
In order for remote workers, students, and businesses to work and compete in our digital economy, broadband connectivity is a necessity like shelter and water. Poor or no broadband exists in many rural and inner city areas in the country even in 2017. For the first time, broadband funding is emerging as a bipartisan goal. This necessity drives both sides of the aisles into each other, allowing for collaboration on an important issue for everyone.
Senate Democrats recently unveiled an infrastructure blueprint that would allocate $20 billion in funding for high-speed broadband in underserved and unserved areas. While official agreements haven’t been made, Senate Republicans insist that these issues are top priority for them, too. Late last year, Google hosted a conference called “Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond.” The speakers included three members of the new Senate Broadband Caucus: one Republican, one Democrat, and one Independent.
President Trump has so far been pretty quiet about his broadband plans. However, it’s expected his plan will involve removing some of the regulations that have stymied high-speed internet investment. On January 31, 2017 a bipartisan coalition of 71 Representatives sent a letter to Trump urging him to include investments in rural broadband connectivity. With the Senate and the House of Representatives firmly devoted to broadband infrastructure, it will be hard for President Trump to ignore.