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Summary

Aspen Digital hosts a roundtable discussion on what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us about the need for improving digital connectivity and utilization in the United States. The event features many noted experts, including a wide range of voices from within the Internet ecosystem. Given what we know now, how should we be thinking about new approaches to long-standing issues of connectivity, and using our digital infrastructure to improve economic resiliency, public services and social progress? 

For questions about the Aspen Digital Roundtable, please contact Tricia Kelly

PARTICIPANTS
Jonathan Adelstein
Wireless Infrastructure Association
Rebecca Arbogast
Comcast NBCUniversal
Paula Boyd
Microsoft Corporation
Doug Brake
ITIF
Michael Calabrese
Open Technology Institute at New America
Len Cali
AT&T Services, Inc.
Jonathan Chaplin
New Street Research
Larry Downes
Internet Industry Analyst and Author
Donna Epps
Verizon
Larry Irving
Irving Group
Derek Khlopin
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Grace Koh
United States Department of State
Chris Lewis
Public Knowledge
Jennifer Manner
EchoStar/Hughes
Ruth Milkman
Quadra Partners
Francella Ochillo
Next Century Cities
Robert Pepper
Facebook
David Redl
Silicon Flatirons
Dennis Roberson
Roberson and Associates
Vivian Schiller
Aspen Digital
Jeff Smulyan
Emmis Communications
Charlyn Stanberry
U.S. House of Representatives
Scott Wallsten
Technology Policy Institute
ADVANCE READING

Understanding the Problem

Blair Levin and Larry Downes, The Internet After COVID-19: will we mind the gaps? April 15, 2020.

Morning Consult, Telecom Industry, Broadband Advocates Push for Internet Subsidies in Next Stimulus, April 2, 2020.

NCTA, COVID-19: How cable's Internet networks are performing, metrics, trends and observations,

Kevin Taglang, Benton Foundation, The State of Broadband Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, May 13, 2020.

Blair Levin, COVID-19 shows that America's broadband plan is still in beta, May 18, 2020.  

Moving to Action

FCC, Keep Americans Connected.

Senator Markey, National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, May 7, 2020.

Benton Foundation, Broadband HEROES, May 15, 2020.

Gregory L. Rosston and Scott Wallsten, Technology Policy Institute, Senator Markey is on the Right Track to Connect Everyone, May 21, 2020.

Brad Smith, Microsoft, COVID-19 has only intensified the broadband gap, May 21, 2020.  

Stephen Babcock, 50 Baltimore orgs are joining together to close the digital divide — during the pandemic, and beyond, May 5, 2020.

Ethan Barron, Twitter CEO Dorsey to donate 10 million so every Oakland kid as a computer and internet access, The Mercury News, May 15, 2020.

KEY QUESTIONS
  1. Addressing the gaps (please refer to background readings)
    1. Are there gaps that need to be addressed beyond the five identified in the Levin/Downes post (see reading #1)?
    2. Are there other issues that need to be addressed that would be suited to this kind of initiative?
  2. Where do we need to go?
    1. What are the primary drivers of greater digital connectivity that must be accelerated?
    2. What have we learned from the abrupt lurch towards telework, telehealth, digital commerce, e-government, and online learning that should inform new policy initiatives?
    3. What are the major obstacles to creating a truly robust, universally-connected environment?
    4. How do we address, or think about addressing, long-standing funding issues?
  3. How do we develop non-partisan recommendations with significant political capital supporting it?
    1. Who needs to be involved and who needs to lead?
    2. What are the major obstacles to developing such recommendations?
    3. How can we structure it to work, regardless of election outcome, as an action plan for the 2021 White House, Congress, and agencies?

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