The White House has announced a $42.45 billion pot of funding to connect Americans with affordable and reliable Internet, calling high-speed broadband a necessity rather than a luxury.
According to the Biden-Harris Administration announcement, more than 8.5 million households and small businesses are in areas where high-speed Internet is not even an option.
The move is being likened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act, which brought electricity to the majority of American homes and farms. It promises to deliver high-speed connections to the country’s citizens by the end of the decade.
All Americans will get high-speed broadband by 2030
The Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program adds to the country’s existing programs designed to help Americans stay connected.
Currently, 19 million of the country’s citizens are enrolled in a program worth $14.2 billion that sees eligible households receive up to $30 per month (up to $75 per month on qualifying Tribal Lands) toward their Internet bill, and a further $100 credit toward a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer offered by participating internet service providers. Currently, more than 20 ISPs are participating in the scheme.
The BEAD program is set to deliver at least $107 million to each state, with some eligible for more funding based on proportions and other factors. Of these, 19 states received allocations of over $1 billion, including Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Some of the money is also destined for manufacturing jobs and crowd in private sector investment to help support the growth required to meet the target by the end of the decade.
Whether or not hybrid and remote working is here to stay, reliable Internet connections have proven vital for jobs, school participation, healthcare, and maintaining connection with relatives, and it is hoped that leveling the playing field will provide citizens with more equal opportunities in the years to follow.