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‘Our education lifeline’: U.S. battle over broadband heats up


In January Ellie Mitchell started getting a barrage of texts and emails from her internet service provider, warning her she was running out of data.

“The messages kept coming: ‘You’ve used 75%, 80%, 90%…'” Mitchell, director of youth nonprofit Maryland Out of School Time Network, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

“It felt like we were being held hostage,” said Mitchell, who was working from home in Baltimore, Maryland alongside her husband and their two children attending school online.

Comcast Corp, one of the largest internet providers in the United States, announced in November it would be capping data usage for residential customers not on an unlimited plan in several cities in the northeast.

Customers who use more than 1.2 terabytes (TB) of data are charged $10 for every additional 50 gigabytes, up to a maximum of $100.

The move drew the ire of elected officials and digital rights activists in Baltimore, who have been calling on the company to make broadband accessible for all students during the pandemic.With millions forced to work and learn from home, COVID-19 has laid bare the digital divide across the country, with technological inequality disproportionately affecting poor and minority communities.Some 16 million children, or 30% […]

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