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The Biden-Harris Internet Initiative is a Crucial Step for America

Updated: Mar 25

The Biden-Harris Internet For All initiative is a much-needed step in addressing resource disparities. Internet connection is not a luxury anymore—it is an absolute necessity, whether one is an adult in the workforce or a child in school. The pandemic was an especially profound illustration of this. 


In many ways, this shift to a more digital way of life has made many jobs easier and more accessible. For example, those who can now work remotely do not have to worry about the cost of traveling to work or commute time. However, households that cannot afford high-speed internet are at a disadvantage, actively stopped from having access to the same opportunities people who can afford high-speed internet have. Thus, the Internet for All initiative is a necessary step that needs to be taken for our country to move forward and lower barriers to success for everyone. 


This bill is especially important for low-income communities, particularly those of the BIPOC demographic, who are unfairly affected by the digital divide. This contributes to the systemic barriers faced by marginalized communities in the U.S., which prevents the possibility of equal opportunity. For example, in Chicago, 80% of households have access to high-speed internet, and there is a huge connectivity and income gap between them and households that do not, which are predominantly made up of low-income and BIPOC communities. Additionally, the initiative will provide more funds for Indigenous communities to pay for high-speed internet—$75 given per month to Indigenous households as opposed to the $30 per month given to other low-income households. The Internet for All initiative is an important step that will help level the playing field when it comes to accessible opportunities. 


Passing the bill was an important first step. But it's just that—a first step. It's important to ensure that funds are distributed, implemented and accessible to people who need them. One challenge is the fact that many households that do not have access to high-speed internet are located in rural or sparsely populated regions. This means that private internet companies are less likely to make a profit by installing internet infrastructure in these locations because it reaches fewer people. Thus, negotiations need to occur between the federal government and private companies to invest in the building of that infrastructure. 


In addition, the funds should be easily accessible. According to the Internet for All website, it is relatively simple to submit the necessary documents to qualify for a subsidized internet connection, which is crucial to ensuring that funds are being distributed in an accessible way. One must submit any qualifying programs they are a part of, their household income, ID and address through an online or mail application. After they are approved, they can find an internet provider and access subsidized high-speed internet. 


The Internet for All initiative, if implemented effectively, is a great step towards installing a form of necessary infrastructure that supports all Americans instead of just those who can afford high-speed internet. It will also address and overcome some barriers that affect many marginalized communities and ensure everyone has access to the resources needed to attend school, go to work and simply exist in our increasingly digital world. 


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


“Apply Today.” InternetForAll, https://www.internetforallnow.org/applytoday. Accessed 3 June 2022.


CST Editorial Board. “Internet access is no longer a luxury, so everyone’s got to get connected.” Chicago Sun Times, 9 May 2022, https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/5/9/23063661/internet-access-no-longer-luxury-everyones-got-to-be-connected. Accessed 3 June 2022. 


“FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration’s “Internet for All” Initiative: Bringing affordable, reliable high-speed internet to everyone in America.” InternetForAll, 13 May 2022, https://www.internetforall.gov/sites/default/files/2022-05/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20IFA%20Launch_0.pdf. Accessed 31 May 2022. 


Rascoe, Ayesha. “Harris' Broadband Push Could Be Political Windfall — Or Pitfall.” NPR, 6 May 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/05/06/994017450/harris-broadband-push-could-be-political-windfall-or-pitfall. Accessed 3 June 2022. 

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