If 2020 convinced the country that broadband for all Americans is essential, then 2021 underscored a reality of life: Goals often require longer timelines than we’d prefer. To put it another way, a worldwide emergency helped the U.S. recognize the importance of having ubiquitous high-speed Internet, and now we’re playing catch-up. There’s no quick and clean fix, which is a clunky pill to swallow for millions of people who contend with substandard or nonexistent connectivity as a new world of hybrid education, remote work, online services and telehealth takes over. The urgency for wider access to high-speed Internet has been palpable this year. The federal government has ramped up its focus on the issue.
Over the past month as the Coronavirus pandemic has swept across the United States, precautions have been made to protect residents including enhancements to operational capacity of health care facilities, closing of non-essential business and the establishment of statewide lockdowns that mandate individuals to self-quarantine. Unfortunately these provisions have not extended far enough to protect incarcerated citizens, many of whom have family members and allies on the outside that have demanded action be taken to protect people in prison. In order to combat the lack of action taken by state governors, slow moving legislation has been introduced in multiple states. In Massachusetts HD.4963: An Act regarding Decarceration and COVID-19, demands that people who pose no threat to the community be released, including those serving time for simple possession of controlled substances, detained because they cannot afford bail under $10,000 and over the age of 50, who are according to the CDC medically vulnerable.