While Hillary Clinton was short on details Thursday night about her gung-ho, “first 100 days “ jobs building plan, the expansion of broadband accessibility, next generation wireless technology and and computer education will loom large. So pledged Sara Solow, domestic policy adviser for Hillary for America, at events earlier in the day and throughout DNC Week in Philly.
Thursday, the adviser underscored the campaign’s concern with “the homework gap” and committed to upgrading the National Broadband Plan written in 2010.
The Clinton Campaign is opposed to “arbitrary caps” suggested by some Capitol Hill Republicans on the Lifeline service enabling low income families to get Internet service. And Clinton wants a re-write of the Broadband Plan “focused on our broadband deployment throughout the country,” said Solow. “By 2020 every household in America should be hooked up to high-speed internet sufficient to meet family’s needs.”
To get there, “we should look at wireless solutions, we should look at microwave wireless solutions, we should look at satellite solutions too.” Cities and towns should be leaders in the cause – “fiber ready” and “more open to third and fourth broadband providers” which could include reforming exclusionary policies about burying and hanging lines.
How bad is the digital divide? At present, 34 million people in the nation are lacking any kind of broadband connectivity, noted FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn at one of the sessions where Solow also spoke. Only one in two rural households has access to high speed service.
To push the cause, the Democratic candidate also favors expanding the “E-rate program” (now using Universal Service Fund monies to pay for broadband in schools and libraries) to also bring broadband availability to train stations, airports, mass transit centers, community and recreation centers. “We think we need a continuum of connectivity in America,” said Hillary’s point person. “You should be able to get on the internet everywhere.”
Universal computer literacy is likewise a Clinton priority, Solow said. “By the time every kid graduates from high school in American they should have had computer science education. We think that if we make an aggressive commitment early on ….we can make a real difference.”
The Clinton campaign ”couldn’t disagree more” with the argument voiced by the Republican candidate that the U.S. is in decline and no longer innovative, but is stressing that we can’t take our eyes off the prize. “We have to make the investments and we have to make the commitment,” Solow said. “Just take 5G, which is where wireless is heading. You’ve got South Korea and Japan, other countries that are pouring state money, national money into developing 5G so they can race toward the finish line and get that infrastructure technology deployed across the country. Other countries are realizing how much promise there is in tech and innovation and IT.“