People in Washington have been trying to fix the country’s digital divide for years. But the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing the stars into alignment for real action on broadband access and affordability in 2021.
COVID-19 kept tens of millions of office workers and schoolchildren at home, with a broadband line becoming their primary connection to the outside world. A Pew study in March found that 31% of Americans are “almost constantly online.” Meanwhile, 77 million Americans lack adequate internet service at home, says public interest group Free Press, and just two-thirds of people in the nation’s bottom income bracket can access the internet from home.
Congress has already included $3.2 billion in emergency funding for broadband access in the stimulus bill this year. But the big show for broadband stimulus will come in the bill that emerges from President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan–the American Jobs Plan.
The plan proposes to fund all kinds of infrastructure,…