Saying that high-speed internet access has become a necessity of modern life, President Joe Biden announced Monday that his administration will spend $42.5 billion to deliver broadband Internet to remote and rural areas by 2030.
The funding was provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Biden signed into law in 2021. Each state, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, will receive a minimum of $100 million over the next two years from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program. On average, states will receive about $750 million. Some states will receive far more, according to allotments announced by the Commerce Department. Texas, for example, will receive about $3.3 billion, while Alabama will receive about $1.4 billion and Michigan more than $1.5 billion.
“What this announcement means for people across the country is that if you don’t have access to quality, affordable high-speed Internet service now – you will, thanks to President Biden and his commitment to investing in America,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said at an event at the White House.
More than 8.5 million households and small businesses in the U.S. lack access to high-speed internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which has defined a minimum standard of 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads.
White House adviser Mitch Landrieu, who is coordinating the administration’s infrastructure efforts, compared the high-speed internet effort to a famous infrastructure program from the New Deal era. “Just like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act made a historic investment in rural areas bringing electricity to nearly every home in America, President Biden and Vice President Harris are committed to leaving no community behind as we connect everyone in America to high-speed Internet,” he said.
Commenting on claims that all Americans will now have internet access, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia echoed the New Deal sentiment. “It's basically the same thing as rural electrification,” he said. “How did we get a hot wire up every road, nook and cranny in West Virginia so that everyone could have electricity? It was unimaginable ... That's the premise that we're working off of.” West Virginia, where more than 30% of homes and businesses lack access to high-speed internet, will receive more than $1.2 billion through the broadband program.
Looking ahead: The White House is kicking off a three-week blitz of events designed to highlight efforts by the Biden administration the improve American infrastructure, which they hope voters will notice when they go to the polls in 2024. As part of the blitz, the Department of Transportation highlighted another infrastructure program Monday, saying it would provide grants totaling nearly $1.7 billion to help state and local governments buy zero- and low-emission buses.