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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Biden Administration Will Release $45B for Nationwide Internet

by Josh Boaki

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Biden administration is taking the first steps to release $45 billion to ensure that every US resident has access to high-speed internet by about 2028, governors and other leaders on Friday told the application process. invited to start.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is overseeing distribution and has stated that universal access to broadband Internet would be similar to the electrification of rural America during the 1930s, a recognition that the Internet was essential for American residents to function in today’s economy. necessary utility.

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

The funding is part of a $1 trillion infrastructure package for broadband worth $65 billion that President Joe Biden signed into law last November. That bipartisan package is one of the policy achievements the Democratic president is trying to sell to voters ahead of the midterm elections, though it’s not clear what message the message will convey when much of the country is focused on high inflation, cultural differences and political identity. How much will it resonate? ,

Former President Donald Trump has dismissed infrastructure spending as “fake,” even though broadband spending was one of his own priorities. His Agriculture Department said in 2020 that it had invested $744 million on rural Internet connectivity, an amount that was meaningful yet insufficient.

Raimondo is traveling to Durham, North Carolina. She will announce that governors can send their letters of intent to receive broadband money, which comes from three programs totaling $45 billion. Each state would then get $5 million to help them consult with residents and write their plans.

The Commerce Department recognizes that Internet requirements vary by state. The money can be used to build fiber optic cabling, build Wi-Fi hotspots or even reduce monthly fees in places where price is the main challenge. Following the administration’s announcement on Monday that it would provide a $30 monthly subsidy to low-income families, Raimondo said states could use additional money from these programs to make the service free for some users.

Allocations will also be affected by the Federal Communications Commission, released this fall with new maps of where people have or have little or no internet service. Governors and other leaders will have six months to use this data to shape their final applications. According to rough estimates from the Department of Commerce, states and eligible territories are guaranteed a minimum of $100 million, although the average payment will be closer to $800 million.

The goal is to set a five-year timeline for states to provide full Internet access, while ensuring affordable Internet access and promoting competition among providers. The federal government has not defined what qualifies as affordable, as it can vary across the country depending on the cost of living.

The Commerce Secretary said that he has seen the impact of universal internet availability on people in his travels.

She said she spoke to a widower in rural South Carolina whose late wife could only see a doctor regularly via telehealth, but they lacked a high-speed connection. Raimondo spoke to a college student in Atlanta with a full-time job who had to go back to campus for the Internet to do her homework, leaving the student so exhausted that she fell asleep at the wheel and got into two auto accidents.

“You close the digital divide and close the opportunity divide,” Raimondo said, “and we truly deliver on the American promise of giving everyone a shot at a good job, an education, and health care. “

World Nation News Desk
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