The White House on Monday announced plans to spend as much as $42 billion on making internet access universal in the country by 2030, according to a report by Reuters. This initiative is part of President Joe Biden’s new economic policies, which will be a part of his 2024 re-election campaign.
“Today, 24 million people in our country do not have access to high-speed internet, either because they cannot afford the monthly cost of a plan or because they live in communities that have not yet been fully connected to fiber-optic networks,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Every person in our nation, no matter where they live, should be able to access and afford high-speed internet.”
The funding was made possible by the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program, which was authorized by the 2021 $1 trillion infrastructure law that President Biden supported. The allocation of funds was determined based on a recently released coverage map by the Federal Communications Commission, which identified areas with limited access to broadband.
Broadband companies such as Verizon, Comcast, Charter Communications, and AT&T have been hesitant to provide access to low-population rural communities due to the high costs involved and the limited number of potential subscribers in these regions.
The states receiving the highest funding amounts are Texas and California, the two most populous states in the country, with $3.1 billion and $1.9 billion respectively. Less populous states like Virginia, Alabama, and Louisiana also ranked in the top 10 for funding, as they have large rural areas that lack internet connectivity compared to their major urban centers. The funding amounts vary, ranging from $27 million for U.S. territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands to over $3.1 billion for Texas. Each state will receive a minimum of $107 million.
During a White House address on Monday, President Biden highlighted the significance of this investment, stating that it is the largest investment ever made in high-speed internet. He emphasized that, in today’s economy, internet access is as crucial as electricity and water.