Even though the Internet has only been a part of our lives for a relatively short time, its transformative power is virtually unrivaled in modern history. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without it.
Unfortunately, many Americans don’t have to imagine. According to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 18 million Americans don’t have access to high-speed Internet service. These “have-nots” constitute the so-called “digital divide” and are shut out of the myriad of economic, educational, and social benefits the Internet has to offer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served to reaffirm just how vital Internet service is. Those with access to high quality broadband service have been able to work from home, go to school remotely, and even avail themselves of telehealth service. Those without access have had a much tougher time.
Our latest OIG white paper looked at possible roles the U.S. Postal Service, which has a physical presence in nearly every community, could play in helping bring the full benefits of 5G and other broadband service to parts of the country that are currently unserved or underserved. One potential opportunity is turning some post offices into digital hubs for Wi-Fi access. Others include working with partners to either install antennas or lease space within postal facilities. Lastly, the Postal Service could assist in collecting valuable data about broadband coverage in remote areas.
What do you think? Should the Postal Service help bring broadband to unserved or underserved communities?