​Broadband Connectivity: Connecting the Dots and You

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on June 24, 2021 # COVID-19, Assistive Technology, Community Education

As we adapt to working from home, reliable home internet access is more important than ever. Though, while the extent of some's internet complications consists of momentary delays, glitches, or short-lived cut-outs; others face the issue of a total lack of broadband coverage or an inability to pay for internet costs. For disabled and paralyzed individuals, the reality of living without stable internet access is isolating and vastly more challenging. Adaptive and assistive technologies are important for people living with a disability. They are increasingly reliant on internet access. Living without these technologies can set the progress of independence back years. While broadband coverage and internet services are synonymous with the ability to connect to Wi-Fi, there are important differences between broadband coverage and internet service.

Internet services are provided by internet service providers (ISPs). Verizon, Xfinity, and Optimum are examples of ISPs. ISPs provide internet services through a vast infrastructure complex consisting of cables, wires, and satellites communicating with each other. These companies provide a litany of services, though the main service focused on is these companies' ability to provide their users with internet access. The basis of the ISP's functions focuses on the communication of information and data between devices. Though internet service is only as good as one's ability to utilize it, and one's ability to utilize internet service is dependent on their broadband coverage.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the federal agency responsible for implementing and enforcing U.S communications laws and regulations. Currently, the FCC sets the standard for broadband coverage at 25 megabytes per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. What is important to take away is that there is a standard for internet services to be accessible under the broadband coverage provided in an area. If the minimum download and upload speeds are not met, internet service will be unattainable for individuals and families in areas with broadband coverage.

Trying to access the internet without adequate broadband coverage is like trying to drink a thick milkshake through a very thin straw, there is not enough space for the milkshake to travel through the straw. When broadband coverage is too low, the information and data being shared between devices cannot be transferred because of the broadband coverage's lack of capacity to communicate the dense data. This results in no internet access due to broadband coverage being too low to support information transfer and communication.

This means devices will not perform their most basic functions of internet searches, phone calls, texts, and emails. Without the base requirement for broadband coverage being met, cellphones cannot get service and make calls, and computers are unable to access the internet. In a world of increasing technological relevance with the added layer of COVID-19, social isolation, and work from home, broadband coverage and internet services are some of the most important services that we rely on for our work and communication. Without that service, many are left in the dark of an information desert.

The COVID-19 virus has only compounded the need for reliable internet access and broadband coverage as we continue to utilize virtual communications in our professional and work lives. Even as state mandates are being lifted, many organizations and individuals will continue to operate from home in a virtual capacity. Those with disabilities are especially at the mercy of broadband coverage and reliable internet service. As a population that is becoming increasingly reliant on stable internet services and broadband coverage to use their adaptive technologies, government programs and subsidies must be put in place that addresses the needs of disabled and non-disabled citizens alike who are reliant on broadband coverage and internet services.

For more information about federal programs covering broadband coverage and internet services, click HERE for details on federal programs that can help get you broadband coverage and reliable internet access. You can also click HERE to access another blog detailing the program's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and eligibility.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.