President Biden on Monday is set to announce $40 billion dollars in funding to be allocated across the country in an effort to bring areas without internet access online in the coming years.
The White House billed the announcement as the kickoff of a three-week “investing in America” blitz in which Biden and other officials will highlight how money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other legislation passed under Biden are boosting infrastructure around the country.
“Just like Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered electricity to every home in America through his Rural Electrification Act, the announcement is part of President Biden’s broader effort to deliver investments, jobs, and opportunities directly to working and middle-class families across the country,” a White House official said.
Roughly 8.5 million locations across the country currently are not connected to the internet, the White House said.
Funding for the ambitious connectivity plan will mainly come from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
The effort to allocate funding and implement the infrastructure to improve internet access to areas that need it will be a roughly 18-month process, officials said.
A White House timeline for the project notes that the state and local planning process will take part in the coming months, with initial plans due by the end of the year. Initial plans will be approved and 20 percent of funds will be allocated early next year. The eighty-percent of funding remaining will be disbursed in 2025 once final plans are approved.
Biden has frequently cited efforts to boost internet access when discussing investments in the middle class, arguing it is vital to be able to compete economically in the 21st century.
In a call with reporters to discuss the announcement, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients highlighted farmers in North Carolina who don’t have internet access, so they must rely on word-of-mouth to sell their grains and livestock.
“Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, the president pushes me, our White House team, and the Cabinet on how can we get things done even faster, even more efficiently, even more effectively. And our mission is to keep executing,” Zients said.
“We have a historic opportunity here to make a real difference in people’s lives, and making sure that we deliver on that potential is what we’re about every day,” Zients continued. “And to make sure that people feel that at their kitchen table in their communities in their backyards.”
Source: The Hill