Internet mapping effort aims to increase Oregon broadband access
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Fast internet connections have become integral to a high-quality education. Sen. Ron Wyden is asking Oregonians to help make sure the state receives the federal support it needs to improve access.
The Federal Communications Commission is creating a new National Broadband Map to show where high-speed internet is available and to determine the state funding available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Oregonians are being asked to check their address’s internet status and file a challenge or request a change if it’s wrong. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration recommends submitting challenges by Jan. 13 to affect the funding allocation formula.
“During the pandemic, we found out where we had holes, and those holes need to be plugged,” said OSBA Executive Director Jim Green. “This is an equity issue for our students and school districts across Oregon.”
Green said students who don’t have access to high-speed internet are at a significant disadvantage. School board members should help get their communities involved so that they receive federal money to shore up local infrastructure, he said.
Wyden, D-Oregon, is a national advocate for widespread reliable internet access, particularly in rural areas. Wyden and the FCC are hosting a live webinar explaining the map and how Oregonians can check its accuracy. The 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, webinar is free and does not require registration.
OSBA Legislative Services Specialist Richard Donovan has been working with a small group of education advocates and telecommunications representatives organized by the Oregon Department of Education to address students’ broadband needs.
“There is an absolute lack of adequate high-speed internet access in many parts of the state, and our info about where these gaps are is inadequate,” Donovan said.