Internet for All? Biden Plans to Get the Whole Country Online

Making high-speed internet something that’s available to everyone in the country has been a longstanding goal of the federal government. Now, the Biden administration has announced a specific plan to deliver “internet For All” by 2030.

Last week, Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo announced the launch of the initiative at an appearance alongside Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina in Durham.  The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will supervise the project’s implementation.

The initiative will invest $45 billion to “provide affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for everyone in America by the end of the decade.” That money was appropriated as part of 2021’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“In the 21st century, you simply cannot participate in the economy if you don’t have access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet,” Secretary Raimondo said in the statement.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Americans across the country will no longer be held back by a lack of high-speed internet access. We are going to ensure every American will have access to technologies that allow them to attend class, start a small business, visit with their doctor, and participate in the modern economy.”

The White House announced earlier in the week a deal with service providers to keep costs down for low-income Americans. The money appropriated for the program will fund tech infrastructure and digital skills education.

“The resources in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow us to bring broadband infrastructure to every corner of our country, make service affordable for everyone, and ensure users have the devices and digital skills they need,” Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said in the announcement. “But in order to succeed, we need a whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach—everyone who has a stake in our connected future should get involved now.” 

According to Engadget, a total of $65 billion was earmarked for broadband in the infrastructure bill that passed in 2021. That money will be distributed by states through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

“High-speed internet access isn’t a luxury. It’s needed to fully engage in the economy, and it helps ensure public safety and the health of our nation. Unfortunately, too many in America lack access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet,” the program’s website says.

“The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,” BEAD documents note.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.

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