COVID Shows What It Costs Your Community to Go Without Good Broadband


As a magic word, it puts “Shazam!” to shame.

Zoom. It is the only most visible of the many powerful broadband applications that are helping us get through COVID19. It stands for the transformation of broadband, almost overnight, from “nice to have” into “essential infrastructure,” as the pandemic spreads across nations and industries and keeps forcing changes in the way we live.

Zoom. Say the word and it starts you wondering. Why did anyone, anywhere, ever have the ridiculous idea that fast, reliable, affordable broadband was not just as essential as making a phone call, driving on a road, turning on a water tap or flipping a light switch?

As countless news stories are reporting, COVID19 has revealed great gaps and massive inequities in our accepted ways of life. Lack of fast, reliable, affordable broadband is just one of them – yet the pandemic has made the true costs for individuals and communities painfully clear:

  1. It limits their access to jobs and economic opportunity.
  2. It hurts a community’s ability to attract and retain employers and investment.
  3. It reduces access to healthcare and worsens healthcare outcomes.
  4. By making it hard for the elderly to age in place, it hurts their quality of life and increases their vulnerability to disease.
  5. It offers young people deeply unequal access to education, skewed by household income and location.
  6. It denies people the chance to collaborate on solving community problems.
  7. It makes people and communities less resilient in the face of crisis.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Our downloadable fact sheet goes into the details. If you find them convincing, use it to start a conversation in your community.

The reality is stark. Unequal access to robust, reliable and affordable broadband means unequal access to citizenship. And it will take more than a magic word to bring about the changes we need.

Image courtesy of Zoom US.

Robert Bell
Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research, analysis and content development activities.
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