As with many other social and economic problems, the pandemic has only deepened the digital divide.
“Unlike in other wealthy nations, the federal government has imposed no cost controls to make broadband more affordable,” writes Will Carless in a recent article for Reveal. “The result: massive inequality in one of the modern world’s most basic utilities.”
On today’s show, Will joins us to talk about just how inadequate broadband service is in the U.S. due to infrastructure, affordability, and a lack of FCC regulation. He and Patty discuss how the digital divide has been exacerbated during the pandemic, whether the internet could ever be classified as a public utility (and what that means), the net neutrality debate, the failures of programs like Lifeline and E-Rate to reach those most in need, and how telecommunications companies are given federal money without accountability while customers are saddled with high rates and poor service—arguably at a time when Americans need reliable internet access more than ever.
Will Carless is a reporter for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. He has also worked as a foreign correspondent in Asia and South America. Prior to joining Reveal, he was a senior correspondent for Public Radio International’s Global Post team based in Rio de Janeiro. Before that, Will spent eight years at the Voice of San Diego, where he worked as head of investigations and won several awards for his work, including a national award from Investigative Reporters and Editors.