Biden administration releases $45 billion for nationwide internet

Washington (AFP) – The Biden administration is taking the first steps to release $45 billion to ensure every US resident has access to high-speed Internet By about 2028, Friday’s call for governors and other leaders to begin the application process.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo He oversees distribution and said universal broadband Internet access would be akin to the electrification of rural America during the 1930s, an acknowledgment that the Internet is a tool that US residents need to function in today’s economy.

“There are more than 30 million Americans who do not have the Internet,” Raimondo said. “And in this day and age without high-speed internet, you can’t go to school, you can’t go to the doctor, and you can’t do simple things. Think about how many times you Google something or go online in a day.”

Funding is part of the $65 billion broadband in the $1 trillion infrastructure package which President Joe Biden signed into law last November. This bipartisan package is one of the political achievements the Democratic president is trying to sell to voters ahead of the midterm elections.although it is unclear how much the message will resonate when much of the country is focused on high inflationCultural differences and political identity.

Former President Donald Trump dismissed infrastructure spending as “fake” even though spending on broadband was one of his own priorities. for him Department of Agriculture It said in 2020 it had invested $744 million in rural internet access, an amount that was meaningful but not sufficient.

Raimundo travels to Durham, North Carolina. It will announce that governors can send in their letters of intent to receive broadband funds, which come from three programs totaling $45 billion. Each state will then get $5 million to help them consult with residents and write their plan.

The Department of Commerce recognizes that Internet needs vary by state. The money can be used to lay fiber optic cable, create Wi-Fi hotspots or even reduce monthly fees in places where price is the main challenge. After the administration announced on Monday that it will provide a monthly support of $30 For low-income families, Raimondo noted that states could use the extra money from these programs to make the service free for some users.

The allocations will also be affected by this fall’s release by the Federal Communications Commission of new maps detailing places where people lack internet or are underserved. Rulers and other leaders will have six months to use this data to shape their final applications. Eligible states and territories are guaranteed a minimum $100 million, though the average payout would be closer to $800 million, according to rough estimates from the Commerce Department.

The goal is for states to set a five-year timetable for providing full Internet access, while ensuring affordable Internet access and promoting competition among service providers. The federal government has not specified what counts as affordable, as that may be different across the country based on the cost of living.

The Commerce Secretary said she has noticed the impact that global internet availability can have on people on her travels.

She said she spoke to a widower in rural South Carolina whose late wife could only see a doctor regularly through telehealth, but lacked a high-speed connection. Raimundo spoke to a college student in Atlanta with a full-time job who had to come back to campus for the internet to do her homework, which left the student so exhausted that she fell asleep while driving and had two car accidents.

“You are closing the digital divide and closing the opportunity gap, and we are actually delivering on the American promise to give everyone a chance at a good job, education and health care,” Raimondo said.