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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Why the Cornell Broadband Network?

January 6, 2021 | By John Foote

The need for accessible and equitable broadband has become a COVID rallying cry. Broadband was certainly important a year ago in pre-COVID times, but with the pandemic the lack of broadband for literally millions of people has exposed a fundamental society failing. The necessity of fast and reliable broadband for education, health, commerce and, yes, entertainment is now in stark relief.

Does Cornell have a role to play in meeting the challenge of ensuring everyone has access to fast and reliable broadband? The answer is an emphatic yes. As the land grant university for New York (and beyond), solving this critical infrastructure challenge should be a priority activity.

Further, an all hands-on-deck approach is required to address this challenge; expertise in the fields of engineering, planning, policy, sociology, public health, economics, finance, to name a few, needs to be brought to bear on this problem. Cornell has this expertise; an informal survey reveals that faculty, researchers and students across 15 departments and colleges are today working on some aspect of broadband.

But in true Cornell fashion, many of these activities are out of sight from people who are on the other side of campus (or on another campus altogether). The objective of Cornell Broadband Network is to provide visibility into these efforts in order to build partnerships and collaborations across the entire University. The hope is that this virtual community of researchers and students on Cornell’s various campuses together with people outside of the University will foster and accelerate the University’s contributions to this field.

The infrastructure that will underpin this community at the outset is comprised of three things.

  • a website that includes news and events, a blog (submissions are welcome and encouraged), a list of publications by Cornell faculty and students, and a directory of people doing work in broadband.
  • a monthly newsletter that contains notices of talks and webinars, and a list of articles and papers gleaned from the web.
  • a monthly Zoom “breakfast” that will explore a particular aspect of broadband featuring researchers and practitioners in the field.

The Cornell Broadband Network is both virtual and organic. It will change and grow in response to the input, contributions and suggestions of all of who are interested in broadband and in harnessing the resources of Cornell to solve this eminently solvable problem. Send your thoughts to