As connectivity has become more important than ever, elected officials at all levels of government are facing issues, challenges, and opportunities that have previously been largely unexplored. To that end, today, the Pelican Institute joined other public policy groups across the nation in releasing policy solutions to help states close the digital divide following COVID-19.

This solutions overview lays out policies that can be implemented at minimal cost while having a large effect on closing the digital divide. Policies for lawmakers to consider include creating better broadband maps, reducing costs for 5G deployment, and eliminating state right of way fees.

The Pelican Institute and other free-market groups are also highlighting policies that states should avoid, such as creating government owned networks, enacting state net neutrality, and creating new grant programs.

As state legislatures gavel back into sessions, lawmakers are dealing with new realities and seeing the importance of connecting citizens. With schools closed throughout the country, students need connections to stay engaged and learning. States also need workers to have the ability to do their jobs remotely to ensure local economies stay up and running.

Eric Peterson, director of the Pelican Center for Technology and Innovation, said that while many states are attempting to address this problem by throwing money it, this solution is not only imprudent but ineffective, particularly during a time of budget strain.

“States shouldn’t be spending millions of dollars when they can least afford it in attempts to connect their citizens. These principles reflect proven policies that have connected communities across the nation,” Peterson said. “Lawmakers in any state capitol can use these tools and have an immediate impact on closing the digital divide while making wise use of taxpayer dollars. I want to thank all of our state policy partners for contributing to these principles, and we’re excited to see them implemented throughout the nation.”

The Louisiana legislature is currently considering a number of proposals that are in line with these principles, and the Pelican Institute is supportive of their passage.

For more information about these principles and the Pelican Institute’s technology and innovation policy work, visit our Center for Technology and Innovation Policy.