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New Biden Infrastructure Plan Aims to Increase Broadband Access

Now that the COVID-19 rescue plan passed in March, the Biden Administration has proposed a roughly $2 trillion infrastructure bill that will focus on everything from roads and bridges to home care service and broadband internet access.

As stated in America’s New Business Plan, access to entrepreneurship is impacted not just by immediate factors like whether one has funding, but also by much bigger issues that limit opportunity and upward mobility and make it more difficult for large portions of the country to secure quality education, jobs, housing, and health care. When an aspiring entrepreneur faces disparate outcomes in health or unequal access to safe and affordable transit, that affects entrepreneurship.

The United States’ aging infrastructure has been an important issue for entrepreneurs for several years. In 2018, 55% of small business owners said a robust investment in our national infrastructure was crucial to the success of their business, according to a survey by Small Business Majority. The same survey found internet access is another important point — 70% of respondents said the federal government should fund high-speed broadband projects.

Known as The American Jobs Plan (AJP), the President’s proposal aims to create 100% broadband coverage across the country, promote transparency and competition, and reduce the cost of broadband service.

Updated in March, America’s New Business Plan also emphasizes the need for greater access to fast internet service. “Too many Americans are without access to fast, reliable, and affordable broadband,” the plan reads. “For entrepreneurs and new business owners, broadband provides them with a wealth of options to fill their employee needs through telework or telecommunications with contracting firms. It also allows them to seamlessly offer their products or services for sale online and connect to the global marketplace, as well as connect with or present to funders.”

These numbers from America’s New Business Plan tell the story:

  • 98.5% of Americans in urban areas have access to fixed terrestrial broadband, but only 77.7% of those in rural areas and 72.3% on tribal lands do, according to a 2020 Federal Communications Commission report;
  • Approximately 18% of Black Americans are without home broadband subscriptions;
  • 51% of households with an annual income below $25,000 do not have home internet service because it is too expensive; and
  • U.S. consumers pay the highest average costs for internet service of any region examined by New America in its The Cost of Connectivity 2020 report.

The AJP also has the larger aim of encouraging innovation beyond the cities that largely serve as the epicenter for new business. “Biden wants to put the public purse behind that promise — with both infrastructure programs and funding for research hubs — to try to level the playing field between middle America and the San Franciscos and Bostons of the world,” as a Reuters article puts it.

The AJP also includes $20 billion to support “innovative, community-led redevelopment projects that can spark new economic activity, provide services and amenities, build community wealth, and close the current gaps in access to the innovation economy for communities of color and rural communities that have suffered from years of disinvestment,” as written in the plan’s summary.

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