President Biden’s recent comment that “broadband is infrastructure” highlights a new federal commitment to treating broadband Internet service in the same way as water or electricity – as a necessity. In many disconnected communities across the nation, broadband infrastructure simply does not exist or is insufficient to meet the demands that modern Internet usage requires. Even if the high-speed networks are in place, affordability remains a significant barrier to broadband adoption.
On March 31, 2021, the White House released a fact sheet on the American Jobs Plan (“AJP”). It introduces the goals President Biden seeks to achieve with a new infrastructure bill. The fact sheet also outlines plans for expanding our nation’s broadband infrastructure, making universal access and affordability a top priority.
The AJP cites a need to build future-proof networks in unserved and underserved areas. Importantly, the Plan also prioritizes support for broadband networks owned, operated, or affiliated with municipalities, non-profits, and cooperatives. That is welcomed news for communities who do not have broadband providers in their area often take it upon themselves to connect their residents. Prioritizing municipal and other nontraditional broadband models ensures that local governments working to address connectivity gaps are able to pursue community-based solutions whenever necessary.
Increasing available network options is only one part of the solution, the other is guaranteeing those who have access to a network are able to afford the connection. The AJP also highlights the need for price transparency, an essential component of making broadband more affordable.
Many local officials would agree that residents pay too much for Internet service, and the AJP makes this concession. Finding ways to address the affordability problem begins with knowing what current Internet Service Providers charge, and how competitive the market really is.
Related NCC Media Mentions:
- Carl Smith, Can Rescue Funds Give America the Broadband It Really Wants? (April 14, 2021).
- Smart Cities Dive Team, How the American Jobs Plan aims to shape 4 pillars of city infrastructure (April 1, 2021).