Harris visit to Louisiana underscores critical need for broadband internet access

On Monday, the same day the Senate began hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, I dare say the most consequential speech delivered didn’t come out of Washington D.C., but rather Sunset, Louisiana, a town of less than 3,000 people. 

There, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the Biden administration’s investment in high-speed internet for communities — particularly, rural communities — without access. 

I suspect none of you are leaping out of your seats with excitement, but I truly believe that’s because most people have come to think of fast internet solely in terms of their personal computers. We tend to think of what it means for viewing online homework or downloading the new season of “The Blacklist.” But, Harris alluded, our world will soon be powered by fast internet. And I’m not just talking about the so-called metaverse. We’re witnessing a technological revolution, and people who are left without high-speed internet won’t just lack equal access to homework tools and their favorite films — they’ll be cut off from a vital resource that will power everything from the health industry, to agriculture, to emergency services and more. 

Here’s how Harris put it: 

So much of our world, if we think about it, has moved online. Throughout the pandemic, people depended on high-speed internet like never before. Business-owners used the internet to sell their goods. Parents used the internet to buy their groceries. Seniors used the internet to see their doctor; young people, to attend virtual classes. All without ever leaving home. So for many of us — for so many of us, the internet has been and continues to be essential for us to perform our everyday needs. 

Our reliance on fast internet and powerful computers is only going to grow, evident in the fact that every telecommunication company in the United States is bombarding you with ads hoping you’ll sign up for their 5G service. 5G — essentially, an ultrafast internet connection — is the latest phase in an ongoing race for fast computer speeds and the machines those speeds could enable. And everyone deserves access to its potential. 

If you’re willing to nerd out with me, I’ve tossed some examples of how this technology will be used below. If you’re thinking, “Whoa, some of this sounds scary” — that’s good! All the more reason why more people — and certainly, not just powerful leaders of tech companies — should be aware of this technology’s possible uses. 

Check out some examples below:

  • Here’s a video about 5G-powered transportation, including self-driving cars.
  • Here’s a video about some potential uses for 5G in the health care industry, including teleconferencing and remote surgery.
  • Here’s a video about 5G farming, and how fast internet connections can help improve productivity to meet the demands of a densely-populated world.

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