President Joe Biden has proposed spending $100 billion to ensure high-speed broadband is available to every American as part of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
Biden announced the broadband spending proposal as part of his American Jobs Plan Wednesday, saying that it will include expanded access for businesses and schools. He added that a key aspect of the plan is to make high-speed broadband affordable as the pandemic exacerbated the problems faced by millions of Americans who lack reliable and high-quality Internet services.
“We’re going to drive down the price for families who have service now, and make it easier for families who don’t have affordable service to be able to get it now,” Biden said in a speech in Pennsylvania.
Biden’s $100 billion broadband plan calls for building “future-proof” infrastructure in unserved and under-served communities; prioritizing support for networks owned by local governments, non-profits and co-ops; and setting aside funds for infrastructure on tribal lands, according to a fact sheet posted on the White House’s website.
The White House said the plan will “promote price transparency and competition among Internet providers.” It will accomplish this by requiring providers to “clearly disclose” pricing while also creating an “even playing field” between private providers and those owned by municipalities and co-ops.
Subsidies may be required to drive down broadband costs in the short term, the White House said, but Biden does not believe in providing long-term subsidization. As such, Biden plans to work with Congress on a solution that will “reduce Internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money,” the White House added.
Erik Stromquist, president of CTL, a Portland, Ore.-based Chromebook seller for the education market, said Biden’s plan would expand on existing efforts to improve Internet access for under-served communities, where the need has increased as many students went remote during the pandemic.
“They’ve been trying to do it already,” he told CRN. “I think he just adds more fuel to the fire to make it happen faster.”
Stromquist said CTL has seen demand grown for Chromebooks with LTE cellular connectivity, which allows students to connect to the Internet without Wi-Fi. Sales for LTE-connected devices are expected to be 25 percent of the company’s total volume this year, he added.
“We’re starting to see schools ask for embedded LTE as an alternative for distance learning, for equity,” he said.