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Earlier in November, President Joe Biden enacted a law A $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, one of the largest federal spending programs in history and a major part of Biden’s national program. The bipartisan bill includes billions of dollars in investments for infrastructure priorities like roads, bridges, and water and sewer systems. But one of the most important elements of the new bill is an allocation of $ 65 billion to improve access and affordability of high-speed Internet.
Broadband advocates have argued for more broadband Internet access for years. These advocates note that Internet access is essential to participate in the modern economy, but that many households and communities are unable to ensure reliable Internet service. In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission estimated that 21 million Americans lacked access to broadband internet, and others placed the figure much higher only that. And even in communities where broadband is available, some low-income households cannot afford the cost of the service.
But the COVID-19 pandemic may have been the catalyst for making universal broadband a political priority. As millions of American households have switched to work and home schooling during the pandemic, a lack of reliable internet service has prevented some workers from participating in the economy and deprived students of classroom instructional time. .
This lack of access has disproportionately affected some communities more than others. Broadband access is strongly correlated with a variety of demographic and economic factors, particularly income and race. Data from Pew Research Center shows that in 2021, 92% of adults earning more than $ 75,000 per year had access to high-speed Internet, compared to only 57% of those earning less than $ 30,000 per year. In terms of race and ethnicity, 80% of white adults have reliable high-speed internet access, compared to only 71% of black adults and 65% of Hispanic adults.