The Biden Infrastructure Plan Means Overhaul for High-Speed Internet – President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is excellent news to Washington state’s lengthy campaign to make internet service a public utility. His proposal promises the public a $100 billion fund to improve the internet service within the United States. He aims to provide every American with an affordable and reliable internet connection with his vast infrastructure plan. The legislation states that it would prioritize its support for every broadband network owned, operated by, and affiliated with the local government.
The plan is excellent news for the long-time advocates who are continuously demanding public broadband services since former President Obama’s term. Unfortunately, only a handful of Washington cities were able to advance because of insufficient funds and complex regulatory issues. However, Biden’s plan is undoubtedly giving Americans high hopes for a better tomorrow.
The Federal Communications Commission uses a low-end estimate that depends on data from internet service providers. An estimated number of 21-42 million underserved Americans are not connected to any broadband services. Sadly, the research outside showed a higher number of neglected areas.
A massive digital divide lies across the rural communities, but Washington’s advocacy regarding public broadband is ironically for its most populous cities. When even a populated city is experiencing under service, rural communities get much more hopeless in their cry for help.
According to the study conducted by the City of Seattle last 2018, public broadband services will not be feasible without external funding. In 2013, they even established a partnership with Gigabit Squared in an attempt to provide gigabit internet to the City of Seattle. Unfortunately, everything went down the drain when Gigabit Squared failed to secure enough money to put their superb vision to work.
Various Washington cities have also attempted to provide public broadband service to their locations. The town of Anacortes is looking at a brighter position with its progressing broadband network. The broadband program is still in the works. Still, they are continuously eyeing potential government funding opportunities — even though they have acquired other federal funding, they have high hopes for Biden’s infrastructure plan. On the other side, Tacoma Public Utilities have failed to maintain their internet service called Click! Network. It is currently being transferred to a private company.
The legislation strives to eliminate any obstacle that makes it hard for the government to provide internet services to its residents. There are currently two bills is on their way to let public utilities and ports offer broadband services directly to the consumers in small towns.
The federal infrastructure plan and Washington state bills coincide in a few terms. As mentioned above, Biden assures Americans that he will get rid of hurdles that complicate the competition between the private government to government-operated broadband services. If the local government both implement the federal and state plans, it would be a massive help for municipal broadband proposals and infrastructure build-out financial difficulties.
Combining the state and federal efforts’ offers a not-to-be-missed opportunity for the local government offices to get funding, says Laura Loe, executive director of Share The Cities. It will be highly beneficial even for pilot programs, for example, in some parts of underserved Seattle. Yet, there is still no exact funding amount mentioned that will be given to cities with existing internet service providers.
COVID-19 did not only show how severe the digital divide is across the states of America. With students and employees struggling to find a decent internet connection from their area, their cry for help needs to be addressed by the government instead of turning a blind eye. Fortunately, the Biden administration is exerting all means to provide better internet service for every American.
According to the White House’s infrastructure plan fact sheet, the pandemic made it clear how the government’s inconsistencies affect every American living in underserved areas. Unfortunately, nothing is certain, even with massive efforts done by the administration. While it is an up-and-coming project, the cable internet industry thinks otherwise — calling the plan overreaching and unnecessary. Meanwhile, the Republicans are initiating a solid opposition to the bill. Everyone wants a brighter future for greater America. Unfortunately, the divided beliefs and perspectives of the parties are making everything uncertain.
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