Dec 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

DreamBox CEO: Broadband should be seen as a utility

Axios' Ashley Gold (L) and Dreambox President and CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Axios' Ashley Gold (left) and Dreambox president and CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson. Photo: Axios

Broadband should be assessed as a household utility in order to improve access, DreamBox President and CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson said Thursday at an Axios virtual event on the future of broadband connectivity.

Why it matters: Broadband access has become essential as the coronavirus pandemic shifted work to home offices and classrooms became remote. Low-income households and communities that don't have reliable broadband access are at an increased risk of falling behind during the pandemic.

  • "Imagine if there were homes that didn't have electricity or heat — we would figure out policy solutions to that, and I think we have to start thinking about access to broadband almost like it was a utility."
  • DreamBox is an online education program focused on mathematics for K-8 students.

What they're saying... Woolley-Wilson argues those in need of broadband fall into two groups: those who can't afford it and those who don't live close to broadband towers.

  • "We need to have systematic, high-level federal, state and local policies to make sure that we bring broadband access. We build towers — literally — where there are no towers, or we provide a strategic approach to providing hotspots so that students can use them," Woolley-Wilson said.
  • "We've seen some creative solutions ... [but] we need scalable and permanent solutions," she said.
Axios' Dan Primack (left) and FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks. Photo: Axios
Axios' Dan Primack (left) and FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks. Photo: Axios

By the numbers: FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks said at the same Axios event that more than 77 million Americans lack adequate broadband in their home.

  • Starks added that 1 in 3 Black adults and more than 1 in 3 Latino adults don't have home broadband connections.

Watch the event.

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