Wired: Biden Grants $930 Million In Broadband Federal Funding For Digital Equity

By CultureBanx Team

  • Biden’s administration announces a $930M grant aimed at expanding rural internet access to to bridge this digital divide
  • The digital divide primarily affects Black communities, where about 40% of their households lack high-speed fixed broadband

The internet isn’t just an accessory in today’s digital age, it’s a necessity. However, not all communities are connected equally. A stark digital divide exists that disproportionately affects African American communities, particularly in rural areas. The Biden administration, in a bid to bridge this digital chasm, recently announced a groundbreaking $930 million grant aimed at expanding rural internet access

Why This Matters: Digital divide, the gap between those who have easy access to computers and the internet, and those who do not, is a persisting issue that has been recognized since the mid-1990s. This divide primarily affects Black communities, where about 40% of households lack high-speed, fixed broadband, according to the Ford Foundation. This is in contrast to 28% of White American households.

While the lack of broadband access is a key concern, it is only one facet of the digital divide. Comprehensive digital inclusion also entails affordable internet subscriptions, internet-enabled devices, applications, digital skills, and high-quality technical support.

For instance, although smartphone and tablet penetration is roughly the same among White, Black, and Hispanic and Latino adults in the U.S., only 69% of Black Americans and 67% of Hispanic Americans own desktop or laptop computers, compared to 80% of White Americans.

The lack of internet access is particularly pronounced in rural, southern areas with higher Black populations. Researchers have found that African Americans across rural counties in 10 mostly southern states were nearly twice as likely to report not having home internet access as white Americans in the same region, Reuters reported. The Biden administration’s grant is a step towards addressing this disparity and promoting digital equity.

What’s Next: Recognizing the urgency of this broadband and digital divide issue, the Biden administration’s $930 million grant is part of the Department of Commerce’s “Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program,” which will fund the deployment of over 12,000 miles of new fiber optic cable across 35 states and Puerto Rico.

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