The recent Senate bipartisan infrastructure plan saw over $65 billion being allocated for investment in broadband. The goal is to extend the current broadband networks to people who are not able to access or afford them.
The White House says that this will “deliver reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to every household.” This is a big claim that they may not be able to accomplish completely, but it is a step in the right direction towards creating a digital environment that anyone can afford. So much more of the country can be developed by providing high-speed wireless internet for rural areas.
Why is this funding important?
The pandemic has brought to the forefront how important digital connectivity is. During a time where everyone is forced to stay at home, the internet and accompanying digital devices became the main source for both work and school.
While most of the country was able to achieve these connections, tens of millions of others were left stranded because they:
- Didn’t have access to the internet or digital device
- Didn’t have access to a local phone/cable company
- Couldn’t pay for an internet connection of a digital device
This is not a problem born because of the pandemic. This has been present for many years and statistics show that around 14 million Americans are not able to access the internet speeds required for seamless work and study environments. The minimum required is 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.
Both phone and cable companies typically do not invest in building more infrastructure in rural areas because of the fewer numbers of consumers. It is highly likely that they won’t make back their investments within an acceptable time frame and so are hesitant to do so. For this reason, government funding is extremely necessary to build the required infrastructure.
How will be the $65 billion be divided?
One of the biggest goals of this funding is to help people who can’t afford it cover their monthly internet expenses. Under the “Emergency Broadband Benefit”, $14 billion from the bill will go towards paying $30 per month to households that qualify. This was initially started as a Covid-19 relief program but has now been extended permanently to this bill.
The biggest portion of this funding has been left aside to be granted to each state. $42 billion will be broken up and provided as grants to individual states. This money will then be given to the recommended Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to expand their existing networks to areas where consumers don’t get access to good internet.
The Digital Equity Act has also been provided with $2.75 billion to continue improving internet connections and access to the digital world for those who are not able to do so. This is done especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, and it will help fund non-profits and local governments to:
- Improve the internet infrastructure
- Provide opportunities for digital learning/skills
- Provide mobile devices to those who don’t have one
$1 billion has been set aside for improving the broadband infrastructure of the “middle mile”. This is basically the infrastructure that connects the source of the internet to the “last mile” carriers that provide services to individual households. For example, Improving the structure of how ISPs are connected to the internet allowing them to divert these connections to individual homes.
What does this mean for telecom companies?
Telecom companies will receive some of this funding and in turn, are required to provide low-cost and affordable internet packages to their consumers. In most cases, they will have to reduce their current prices, which will be checked and approved by government-appointed regulators.
The minimum speeds should be 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads. This is not an extremely fast internet speed but one that is enough for a stable connection.
The bill also states that consumers should be allowed to “comparison shop”. This means that businesses cannot place barriers to prevent consumers from knowing the prices of competitors, and there should be an easy way for them to compare and make a decision.
As of now, these laws have not been set in stone as the official paperwork has not been released. It is only over time that we will know how this funding will affect business practices.
Building the infrastructure and reaching the required levels of connectivity is going to take time. However, the world will continue to move forward so what is the solution for those who need internet now? Well, companies like Wireless Solutions LLC provide high-speed wireless internet for rural areas already.
You can get high-speed internet with no data caps, no throttling of speeds, and no overages from anywhere around the United States. Learn more about how this works and use our solutions to always have a stable internet connection anywhere at any time.