Panelists and key policymakers called for expansion of broadband access into rural and other underserved areas of the state at a conference of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable, the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners, and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn gave the keynote speech, and Gov. Deval Patrick discussed the importance of broadband access to economic competitiveness and education, citing instances of schoolchildren in search of Internet hot spots being forced to work on their computers in library parking lots after hours.
“Access is still too far from universal, and we can no more afford to have a community without access to broadband as we can have a community without access to a good school or decent road,” said Patrick.
Clyburn summarized a recently adopted policy that allows funds once used solely for voice communications to be used for broadband communications.
"The most recent National Broadband Map shows that approximately 18 million Americans lack access to broadband-capable networks at home," she said. "They are the 'have nots' of the broadband world, and they are denied access to some of the most basic features of modern life, that you or I take for granted: ... We want to target our limited resources to those consumers who do not have any broadband providers offering them service.”