In Virtual Roundtable with FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel and Illinois Education Officials, Underwood Discusses Need For Improved Rural Broadband Access for Illinois Communities and Students

June 15, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) continued her work to improve internet access for northern Illinois communities in a virtual roundtable with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. During the event, Underwood and Commissioner Rosenworcel discussed the challenges communities and school districts face with rural broadband access and internet connectivity. Additionally, school district officials from Plano, Newark, Sandwich, McHenry, Woodstock, and Harvard joined the discussion to share the challenges they face in closing the homework gap for students and keeping teachers connected. 


“Access to a reliable internet connection has never been more important. How can we expect students to be able to keep up with their peers without internet to pursue their coursework and learn? How can we expect businesses to stay afloat without connectivity to essential business tools and communication? The bottom line is: we can’t; we must do better and improve internet connectivity across the country, especially in our rural areas,” said Underwood. “I am grateful for Commissioner Rosenworcel’s advocacy on this issue and very much appreciate her willingness to hear directly from our community.” 


“The coronavirus pandemic has revealed many hard truths, and one of them is our nation’s digital divide. Over the last few months, we have asked everyone to go online for healthcare, work, entertainment, and school. One of the cruelest parts of the digital divide is the homework gap for the young students who are not able to do their homework at home,” said Commissioner Rosenworcel. “We don’t know what the fall semester will hold, but I do know the FCC has the authority to help connect schools. No child should be left offline, and we need to use this crisis and the momentum of online learning to fix these issues as we head into the fall. 


In Congress, Underwood continues to work to improve rural broadband access for northern Illinois communities. Last week, Underwood urged the FCC to prioritize rural broadband access to northern Illinois communities in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. In June 2019, Underwood joined the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation in a letter to the FCC urging them to improve the nation’s broadband maps by reforming the mapping process for broadband services. Additionally, Underwood supported the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (H.R. 4229) to help improve the accuracy of FCC broadband data maps by changing the way broadband data is collected. Underwood is a member of the House Task Force on Rural Broadband led by Whip Clyburn.