US president Joe Biden to announce funding plans under $42.5bn plan to bring broadband to rural and underserved areas
US president Joe Biden on Monday is expected to announce initial steps in a $42.5 billion (£33bn) federal funding scheme intended to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas across the country, in what was billed as a “significant” speech intended to boost his reelection campaign.
The event in the White House’s East Room is the first in a nationwide tour by top administration officials highlighting projects, grants and public-private partnerships funded through legislation passed during the Biden presidency.
It is to be followed on Wednesday by a speech in Chicago when the president is to speak about the impact of his policies on the US economy.
In Monday’s speech Biden is to announce how it plans to divide up funding to the 50 US states udner the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Programme, created by Biden’s infrastructure law to bring broadband to underserved areas such as rural locations.
The funding plans are based on a newly released coverage map from the Federal Communications Commission that highlights access gaps.
States are to submit initial plans later this year that will unlock just under $8.5bn, set to be released in September, with the remaining $34bn to be distributed once plans are finalised in spring 2025 – after next year’s presidential election.
“We have an 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 and to make sure that people feel that at their kitchen table, in their communities, in their backyards,” said White House chief of staff Jeff Zients.
He compared the broadband plans to those of president Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 to bring electricity to rural areas.
‘Backbone of America’
The FCC said it found some 7 percent of the country was unserved by high-speed internet.
During his initial election bid in 2020 Biden spoke regularly about the lack of broadband in many areas that prevented some students from being able to use virtual instruction during pandemic lockdowns.
“This is just one example of president Biden rebuilding the backbone of America,” said Zients.