NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A map recently released by the feds, shows the disparities in internet access across the country. Many New Mexican’s living in rural areas faced an internet problem during the COVID-19 pandemic while working and going to school at home.
More than ever before, internet dependence is up. “We’ve used it for Zoom meetings, we’ve used it for telehealth, education,” said Bernalillo County Commissioner, Charlene Pyskoty. With most people working and going to school remotely, the pandemic has drawn attention to major disparities in internet access across New Mexico.
In October KRQE reported on 4th-grader Jonathan Endecott, who walked to his school each day during the pandemic to use the WiFi. Kayla Richards, a UNM student living in Tijeras also had a hard time with remote learning, because of unreliable internet. That’s why Commissioner Pyskoty told KRQE she’d like to see a part of the $66 million given to Bernalillo County as part of the American Rescue Plan, used for better broadband access in the East Mountains.
A map released last week by the U.S. Department of commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows broadband access across the country. Looking at New Mexico’s more populated areas, like Bernalillo County, it shows fewer people living without high-speed internet access. The map says only about 16% of residents in the county are without broadband, but you can see that need is much higher in rural areas of the county like the East Mountains. McKinley County shows one of the greatest needs with nearly 60% of people without broadband access.
Tribal lands which also have low access to broadband internet could soon be getting a $1 billion boost to high-speed internet from the Biden Administration.