High-speed internet is a necessity, President Biden says, pledging all U.S. will have access by 2030

By Kavish Harjai and Seung Min Kim, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday said that high-speed internet is no longer a luxury but an “absolute necessity,” as he pledged that every household in the nation would have access by 2030 using cables made in the U.S.

“These investments will help all Americans,” he said. “We’re not going to leave anyone behind.”

Biden announced that more than $40 billion would be distributed across the country to deliver high-speed internet in places where there’s either no service, or service is too slow.

“But it’s not enough to have access — you need affordability and access,” the president said, adding that his administration is working with service providers to bring down costs on what is now a household utility — like water or gas — but often remains priced at a premium.

With Monday’s announcement, the administration is launching the second phase of its “Investing in America” tour. The three-week blitz of speeches and events is designed to promote Biden’s previous legislative wins on infrastructure, the economy and climate change going into a reelection year. The president and his advisers believe voters don’t know enough about his policies heading into his 2024 reelection campaign and that more voters would back him once they learn more.

Biden’s challenge is that investments in computer chips and major infrastructure projects such as rail tunnels can take a decade to come to fruition. That leaves much of the messaging focused on grants that will be spent over time, rather than completed projects.

The internet access funding amounts depended primarily on the number of unserved locations in each jurisdiction or those locations that lack access to internet download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and upload speeds of 3 Mbps. Download speeds involve retrieving information from the internet, including streaming movies and TV. Upload speeds determine how fast information travels from a computer to the internet, like sending emails or publishing photos online.

The funding includes more than $1 billion each for 19 states, with remaining states falling below that threshold. Allotments range from $100.7 million for Washington, D.C., to $3.3 billion for Texas.

Biden said more than 35,000 projects are already funded or underway to lay cable that provides internet access. Some of those are from $25 billion in initial funding as part of the “American Rescue Plan.”

“High-speed internet isn’t a luxury anymore,” he said. “It’s become an absolute necessity.”

More than 7% of the country falls in the underserved category, according to the Federal Communications Commission ‘s analysis.

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