From a Bloomberg View editorial Wednesday:
The 21st-century equivalent of Herbert Hoover’s chicken-in-every-pot promise is a faster internet connection in every home. It’s a laudable but, for now, elusive goal.
While working to reach it, however, the next president – whether that’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton – must attain a more immediate objective: finishing the Obama administration’s work of connecting so-called anchor institutions across the nation.
Stories of public school students congregating outside schools or libraries so they can use their public Wi-Fi networks to do homework are stirring evidence of the digital divide. Addressing this inequity will require a broader definition of “anchor institutions,” which include not just libraries but public-transit systems and parks. Public Wi-Fi needn’t be confined by roofs or walls.
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There is vibrant debate about how best to expand broadband speeds and access now, while keeping the system open and flexible to further innovation. The U.S. has made great progress in making the internet accessible to its citizens — more than 200 million now have access to broadband at home, compared with 8 million in 2000 — but it has to go much further, more affordably, and faster.
When it comes to anchor institutions, and consumers who have nowhere else to turn for vital access, “immediate action” remains overdue.