The infrastructure bill will make high-speed Internet available to everyone
Melissa Roach lives in St. Louis County, Minnesota, and pays $120 a month for the Internet. During the epidemic, her family has been working at the computer. The best way for her family to get a reliable network is to lay a new line in the driveway. But this cost will cost $800
Like Roach, millions of people across the country are struggling with not being able to or afford the Internet."Some people may be able to afford it. But for my family, this is an incredible number," Roach said earlier this year.
The truth is that we must close the digital divide，US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said at the White House on Tuesday. She pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the dangers of Internet access. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is awaiting President Joe Biden's signature includes $65 billion for broadband. Raimundo’s department will manage more than $45 billion in funds. She said that funding will bring high-speed, affordable Internet to all Americans, no matter where they live.
"Besides the physical infrastructure-laying the fiber-affordability is equally important," Raimondo said. Our goal is to increase new spending on broadband to solve these two problems. Raimundo called this a "huge" task for her department, but they were ready. However, many questions remain about how the funds will be managed and when the project will begin.
At that time, each state will receive at least $100 million in broadband usage fees. The rest of the money will be allocated as needed, depending on how many households in each state are not served and underserved. Raimundo said her department will work closely with the Federal Communications Commission, using their maps to keep track of where funds need to flow. Once the funds are allocated to the states, they will be distributed among the local recipients. To increase transparency and oversight, each state will be required to put its broadband plans online.
So far, this legislation has not been signed into law. Raimundo said that the broadband project will take several months to be established. It is still difficult to say when the actual project will start, but he thinks it may not start until next year. It may be faster to solve the affordability problem through subsidies, but it may take years to lay fiber optic cables in various parts of the United States (including mountainous areas).
Now that this infrastructure legislation is passed in Congress, the US Department of Commerce is expected to increase its efforts to cooperate with partners such as state and city officials and tribal leaders.
As for the specific figures for job creation, it remains to be seen. Raimondo admitted that the United States currently does not have enough well-trained personnel to complete this task. However, part of the bipartisan legislation is used for labor training.
Raimundo said that Americans will see "people in their communities, men, women, people of color, white people, laying fibers."
As a result of last year's COVID-19 mitigation legislation and the provisions of the American Rescue Plan passed in March this year, some efforts to expand the affordable Internet have begun.