Using funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Biden administration announced Monday it is allocating $40 billion in broadband internet investments.
The announcement comes as Biden plans to embark on an "Investing in America" tour to promote his economic plan the White House is dubbing "Bidenomics."
The White House's goal is to provide access to broadband internet to an estimated 8.5 million locations that lack broadband service through the Broadband Equity Access and Development Program.
States are being asked to develop plans for delivering high-speed internet with the funds. The White House expects it will take about two years to allocate 80% of the funds.
"Just like Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered electricity to every home in America through his Rural Electrification Act, the announcement is part of President Biden’s broader effort to deliver investments, jobs, and opportunities directly to working and middle-class families across the country," a White House official said in a statement.
The White House said in addition to providing broadband internet in rural communities lacking service, it hopes to continue a program that lowers costs to consumers. Officials said 19 million households are signed up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which can help reduce internet bills by $30 a month.
That program, however, could run out of funding next year.
"I think we know both from the data and anecdotally, that for a lot of those households, this program, this credit is the difference between having internet access and not having it. So we're eager to work with Congress to figure out ways of ensuring that funding for that very important bipartisan program continues," a senior Biden administration official said.
President Biden is visiting North Carolina Monday to tout the Broadband Equity Access and Development Program as part of his broader economic message.
"It's important to stay connected to friends and family, to do telehealth, for seniors and for others. And so the challenge we have is connecting those just under 10 million locations across America that have absolutely no access to the internet," a senior Biden administration official said. "And what we have done is a multifaceted effort to close that gap and bring everybody high-speed internet access by the end of the decade."
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo calls it a major step for affordable, high-quality broadband, and said Americans would begin to feel the impacts of the investment right away.
"It will take years, obviously, to invest $40 billion and connect every American household," she said in an interview with Scripps News. "But we aren't wasting time, and we've already started. We've already started an initiative in rural America. We've already started an initiative with the USDA, reaching out to farms and agricultural properties throughout America on tribal lands. So, people will start to feel this immediately. We will stay at it over the next four, five, six years until everybody is connected."
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