White House Pledges $930 Million To Bring Better Internet To Rural Communities
By Alexa Heah, 20 Jun 2023
As part of the Department of Commerce’s Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Joe Biden Administration recently announced it would be putting US$930 million in grants to expand internet access in rural areas of the country.
This injection of funds will see over 12,000 miles of new fiber optic cable set up across 35 states and Puerto Rico. Recipients of the grants will be expected to invest an additional US$848.46 million, effectively doubling the program’s contributions.
Officials likened the large-scale networks to the “middle mile”—the mid-section of infrastructure needed for internet access. This will be primarily made up of high-capacity fiber lines channeling data at high speeds so that faster connections can be forged between towns.
“High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. That’s why my Administration is investing in expanding access to affordable high-speed internet to close the digital divide,” President Joe Biden said.
According to the authorities, most of the money will go towards telecommunications and utility companies to expand their networks, while a portion will be given to tribal governments and non-profit organizations.
Additionally, the grants will help improve safety in underserved communities, such as by bettering network resilience to withstand climate crises—including the increasing threat of natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, and floods.
“Much like how the interstate highway system connected every community in America to regional and national systems of highways, this program will help us connect communities across the country to regional and national networks that provide quality, affordable high-speed internet access,” concluded the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo.
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