Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Biden administration wants every American to have access to broadband


In brief: As part of the American Jobs Plan, the Biden administration wants to give reliable and affordable broadband access to all Americans nationwide. For that to happen, Biden plans to invest $100 billion over eight years in future-proof networks owned by municipalities.

Similar to what the federal government did back in 1936 by “bringing electricity to nearly every home and farm in America,” Joe Biden will try to do the same with broadband internet. Given its importance for everyday jobs, school, and health care, it’s safe to say that broadband access is crucial for the development of the U.S., and any modern society for that matter.

Despite broadband’s importance, there is a huge number of Americans without access to it. According to the White House Fact Sheet, “more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds.” Why? Because of the absence of infrastructure in rural areas and tribal lands, as well as due to “some of the highest broadband prices among OECD countries.”

As stated by President Joe Biden, “Americans pay too much for the Internet.” To fight this, his administration “is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money.”

The $100 billion investment will also include the construction of “future proof” networks in areas lacking infrastructure to increase coverage. “Providers with less pressure to turn profits and with a commitment to serving entire communities” such as local governments, non-profits, and cooperatives will be prioritized to manage these networks.

In related news, about a month ago there was a call on the FCC to update definition of “high speed” Internet, from the current 25/3 Mbps to at least 100/100 Mbps.

The Biden administration also wants to make pricing and competition among ISPs more transparent by “lifting barriers that prevent municipally-owned or affiliated providers and rural electric co-ops from competing on an even playing field with private providers.” Moreover, it plans to enforce internet providers to disclose their pricing, possibly ending hidden fees.

The U.S. government isn’t the first planning to cover 100% of the country with broadband access. Starlink’s service has been going strong since its beta phase began. In any case, internet users without broadband access will be thankful for it.

Image credit: Compare Fibre



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