Sinema discussed how jobs, education, and health care services have shifted online and called for expanded broadband for communities across Arizona
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema discussed the need to expand broadband to help Arizonans access work, education, and health care services during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I look forward to working with the FCC to support Arizonans with expanded affordable broadband access during the pandemic as jobs, schools, and health care have shifted online,” said Sinema.
In the Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Sinema discussed how she has heard from Arizonans lacking consistent cell service, including some seniors living at the Sundance RV Resort and the Fairways Community in Pinal County, many of whom can’t reach 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Sinema asked officials how they can ensure Pinal County residents secure reliable cell service. Sinema also highlighted how with education, health care, and employment shifting online it is critical that urban, rural, suburban, and tribal communities in Arizona have reliable and affordable internet access. Sinema questioned officials on the importance of expanding broadband across Arizona to help keep Arizonans connected during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to the FCC, over 20 million Americans lack access to quality internet at home, including as many as 12 million children. This includes tribal communities, where 36% of households lack access to broadband. Students without internet access at home consistently score lower in reading, math, and science. This existing inequity is being exacerbated during the current public health emergency as schools suspend in-person classes and transition to remote learning over the internet to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff. Recently, Sinema helped introduce the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation aimed at ensuring all Arizona K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sinema also cosponsored the bipartisan Keeping Critical Connections Act—legislation that helps small broadband companies provide critical connectivity for students and families to continue their education during the coronavirus pandemic. Sinema has also added a resources page to her website, www.sinema.senate.gov/corona, for Arizonans looking for the latest information on coronavirus.