Paul Bunyan Communications was recently recognized by the Federal Communications Commission for the first-ever Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program.
The program recognizes those who have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide internet access for all, overcoming geographic, socioeconomic and technological obstacles.
According to a release, Paul Bunyan Communications and its cooperative members responded quickly and creatively to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the transition to working from home, increased tele-health services and distance learning.
Paul Bunyan Communications worked directly with the school districts it serves to ensure broadband access for students by installing multiple WiFi hotspots so students and their families would not be left behind.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks issued this statement:
“It is clear that our long-standing digital divide has morphed into a monstrous new COVID-19 divide. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through now, I have heard stories about the innovative and rapid ways individuals, non-profit organizations, and companies are responding to the connectivity needs of people across this country who are seeking access to medical professionals via tele-health services, education, and safe ways to communicate with family and friends.
“In response to these efforts, I put out an open call to hear about heroic DOERs who have stepped up in their communities to ensure that no one gets left behind because they lack broadband connectivity. The DOER Program received an overwhelming response to that call with more than 60 submitted applications, each one impressive and laudable, and demonstrating a true commitment to serving communities through acts of substance and consequence, big and small, generosity and selflessness both during the pandemic and prior to the recent events that have changed our nation.
“Because of all of the strong nominations I received, alongside my advisory board, narrowing down the honorees was very challenging. I believe every applicant is worthy of recognition but there were several that rose to the top because of the scope of their accomplishments and the impact they made. From rural areas to urban corridors, students to seniors, to say this year’s DOER honorees are a stellar group is an understatement. The scope of their accomplishments includes:
- Nationwide efforts that cover all 50 states;
- Specific and focused work in cities like Detroit, San Diego, Boston, Los Angeles, and
New York City and across rural communities like Audubon, Iowa; Palmer, Alaska; and
- Hundreds of community hotspots;
- Connections for over 600,000 students to devices and broadband during the pandemic;
- Connections to 16,000 public housing units;
- Thousands of miles of rural connectivity;
- Support for thousands of school districts, 160 library branches and community locations
such as hospitals;
- Legal and governmental outreach and support to over 400 tribal communities;
- Thousands of jobs attained which have supported both families and the economy;
I am immensely proud of the work Americans are doing across this country to connect those who are being left behind. Congratulations to all, and please keep up the hard work.”
Paul Bunyan Communications and the other honorees across the country will be honored at a virtual reception on October 1.