As part of a major spending proposal called the American Jobs Plan, President Biden plans to bring broadband internet access to all Americans. This means the 35% of the country currently without access to “minimally acceptable speeds” will finally have modern internet infrastructure in place.
“Broadband internet is the new electricity,” the White House said in a statement. “It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds.”
Internet has certainly played an even bigger role in everyday life with the pandemic moving many to work-from-home setups that involve daily Zoom meetings, and the new game consoles’ stream of updates and big file sizes for new games mean those with slow speeds have to spend a lot of time waiting around.
The Biden plan will invest $100 billion to tackle this, prioritizing support for networks operated by the government, cooperatives, and non-profits in order to better promote competition. Overall, the plan will be rolled out over eight years and also includes traditional infrastructure projects. It will provide subsidies in the short-term to help those who cannot otherwise afford broadband internet. This plan is separate from the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act proposed by Amy Klobuchar and James E. Cyburn, which itself would cost $94 billion. The FCC is also currently offering subsidies to help people pay for internet during the pandemic.
“Americans pay too much for the internet–much more than people in many other countries,” the White House statement added. “The President is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money.”
Even in my own area, which is fairly close to a major city–Pittsburgh–I have exactly one choice for internet provider, which includes a data cap for all but the very top tier. That’s an issue not just for downloading big games, but also using streaming services.
Biden is actually making the announcement in Pittsburgh today, by chance. If successful, the plan could make existing providers have more competitive rates, which would certainly be good for those who spend a great amount of time gaming online.