The Biden Administration’s nearly $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, which passed the Senate in August with bipartisan support, includes $65 billion to help ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed Internet.
The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIB) passed by a 69-30 vote on Aug. 10, 2021 with 19 Republicans joining all Senate Democrats. The bill still needs to pass the House and then be signed into law by President Joe Biden before funds start flowing.
“We can make the investments that we know are long overdue in this nation,” Biden said on Sept. 16, 201. “That’s exactly what … our bipartisan infrastructure plan does: investments in roads, bridges, highways; clean water in every home and every school; universal broadband; quality and affordable places for families to live.”
Historic Infrastructure Package Runs 2,702 Pages
The 2,702-page deal includes the following, according to NPR:
- $110 billion for roads and bridges. The $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system.
- $39 billion for public transit. The money would be used to modernize bus and subway fleets and bring new service to communities.
- $66 billion for passenger and freight rail. The money would be used to reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, improve Amtrak’s 457-mile-long Northeast Corridor as well as other routes and make safety improvements to rail grade crossings.
- $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says is critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to curb climate change.
- $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on diesel fuel.
- $17 billion for ports and $25 billion for airports to reduce congestion and address maintenance backlogs.
- $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure, including funding to replace all the nation’s service lines using lead pipe.
- $21 billion for cleaning up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap obsolete gas wells.
- $73 billion for modernizing the nation’s electric grid and expanding the use of renewable energy.
- $65 billion to expand broadband access, a particular problem for rural areas and tribal communities.
For a deep dive into the infrastructure plan, you can access the actual bill here.
White House Says High-Speed Internet Necessary for Americans to Do Their Jobs
The White House, in pitching the infrastructure plan, says that broadband Internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs.
“Broadband Internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected,” says the White House. “.Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country.”
According to the White House, the infrastructure plan’s $65 billion investment will ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed Internet with “an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.”
The bill potentially will help lower prices for Internet service by:
- Requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan
- Creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop
- Boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service.
The bill also looks to bridge the digital divide:
- Passing the Digital Equity Act
- Ending digital redlining
- Creating a permanent program to help more low-income households gain access to the Internet.
“Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to full participation in modern life in the United States,” the legislation states, according to the New York Times.
Bulk of Broadband Money Will Come in Grant Form
The bulk of the $65 billion broadband money, some $42 billion, will come in the form of grants aimed at funding Internet service improvements.
According to the New York Times:
- $100 million will be reserved for all 50 states and another $100 million will be split between American territories.
- $14 billion would be allocated to convert COVID-19 pandemic emergency funds into monthly subsidies for low-income Americans to pay for Internet service.
The Biden infrastructure plan, according to NBC News, would establish a de facto minimum standard of 100 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speed, and “it would require that Internet service providers have an eye toward even higher speeds, most likely through fiber optic service.”
“The main takeaway for me is that it’s oriented around future-proofing infrastructure, and that’s a good thing,” Ernesto Falcon, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, told NBC News.
In the Houston area, contact PS Lightwave to find out about our high-speed network which includes 5,500 all-fiber route miles and 1,600 on-net locations.