Washington, D.C.—In an effort to expand broadband access to residents of rural and low-income areas that are facing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Susan Collins wroteto Crosby Kemper, the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), calling on him to direct additional resources to libraries in these communities to improve Internet connectivity.
The CARES Act, which was signed into law last month, designates $50 million in funding for IMLS to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the impact of the coronavirus. This funding can be used by libraries to purchase mobile “hot spots,” allowing residents to check out these devices for home use.
“The challenges imposed on businesses, families, and others from mandatory school closures and business interruptions are particularly difficult for those Americans who do not have access to reliable broadband in their homes,” wrote Senator Collins. “Hot spots are inexpensive and easily deployable, and focusing funds on these devices will have a significant short-term impact. I urge you to use the tools at your disposal to help close the digital divide and provide temporary relief for rural and low-income residents.”
In Maine, an estimated 12 to 13 percent (83,000) of households still lack adequate access to broadband. In addition, more than 5,300 of the state’s 180,000 students lack broadband access, creating challenges for those trying to work or learn remotely.
Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ letter.