Biden’s plan calls for investing $100 billion to help close the digital divide in the United States, which is the gap between Americans who have access to high-speed and affordable broadband and those who don’t.
The digital divide in the country was highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic, with people relying on internet connectivity to work and go to school. During the pandemic, the issue was put on stark display with images of students using Wi-Fi in fast-food parking lots to do schoolwork going viral.
Biden’s broadband push is part of a $2 trillion infrastructure package the president will unveil in Pittsburgh today.
The plan prioritizes building in underserved and unserved areas of the country and supports local-owned, non-profit, and cooperative broadband networks, according to the White House. It also sets money aside for tribal lands and tribal nations.
“Broadband internet is the new electricity,” the White House said in a fact sheet about Biden’s infrastructure plan. “It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected.”
The White House says Biden is “committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce internet prices for all Americans.”
The $100 billion hews closely to a bill recently introduced in Congress that also addresses broadband connectivity.
The “Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act,” was reintroduced by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) earlier this month. That bill would allocate $94 billion to expand broadband infrastructure in the U.S. and for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which gives eligible Americans a monthly subsidy for discounted broadband service.
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