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Consumer Reports statement on the inclusion of broadband funding in the COVID-19 economic relief package

Washington DC – Consumer Reports praised the inclusion of $3.2 billion of funding for a CR-endorsed emergency broadband benefit program in a bipartisan COVID relief bill in Congress. The provision will provide a $50-a-month subsidy to help people adversely affected by the pandemic pay for internet service. 

CR has been advocating for this particular broadband program for several months as the pandemic has further underscored the pernicious consequences of the digital divide. More than 87,000 consumers signed a petition in support of the measure, and CR joined dozens of organizations in a recently sent coalition letter of support to Congress. 

“If it wasn’t glaringly important before, the pandemic has confirmed the vital need of a broadband internet connection — one that is reliable, affordable, and for some of us, simply available,” said Jonathan Schwantes, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumer Reports. “Too many Americans are not able to access or afford broadband. This is especially true for people who’ve lost their jobs or can’t find regular work since the coronavirus shuttered many businesses. 

“When all of us are working, teaching and getting our medical care online, it is an imperative to ensure everyone has connectivity,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “This is a good step, but if we truly want to ensure everyone has an opportunity to reboot the American dream in this digital era, there is far more work that needs to be done in the near term to invest in new and upgraded infrastructure.”

Consumer Reports recently released a nationally representative survey that found a substantial majority of Americans—four out of every five—agree that internet service is as important as water and electricity.

Media contact: Cyrus Rassool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org