Mar 12, 2024 - Axios Events

Axios House at SXSW 2024: Expanding Connectivity in the Information Age

Hope King on stage with Rep. Robin Kelly. Credit: Cori Baker on behalf of Axios.

Hope King on stage with Rep. Robin Kelly. Credit: Cori Baker on behalf of Axios.

Axios House hosted a reception event at SXSW featuring conversations with Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and White House OSTP deputy CTO for policy Austin Bonner on the importance of reducing the digital divide and improving wireless capabilities in today's increasingly online world.

Why it matters: The ability to access and connect to the internet is now crucial to the economic and physical wellbeing of individuals and families. Many opportunities for telehealth, education and employment shifted online during the pandemic, and a lack of connectivity poses barriers for those who cannot access them.

What they're saying: The digital divide in rural areas is often due to a lack of necessary infrastructure and funding. "It's more of an infrastructure problem, and it even hurts economic development, because people don't want to come to an area that's not connected," Rep. Kelly noted.

  • The Affordable Connectivity Program has helped many American households afford and access the internet but funding is projected to end in May. Lawmakers have introduced legislation to renew the program but the program's future remains uncertain.
  • "It should definitely be permanent, I think it's 23 million households, so that's a lot of people," Rep. Kelly said.

The implementation plan for carrying out President Biden's National Spectrum Strategy came out this week, aiming to improve domestic spectrum capabilities across commercial services, national defense and scientific research.

  • "The National Spectrum Strategy is a place where the President has really called on us to work together to use this finite resource to sort of meet all of the needs we have to meet," Bonner said.

Sponsored content:

In a View From the Top sponsored segment, Verizon Consumer Group CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath shared how the company is prioritizing investment in broadband infrastructure.

  • "In the last couple of years, we've invested more than $100 billion … just building networks," Sampath shared. "And that's our commitment to both America and more broadly to broadband."

Thank you to Verizon for sponsoring this event.

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