WASHINGTON — President Biden is looking to upgrade the country’s access to reliable Internet in his American Jobs Act.
The bill would spend upwards of $2 trillion on infrastructure upgrades to roads, bridges, and the country’s electric grid. That all includes increasing access to reliable Internet.
In a House subcommittee hearing on Thursday on Capitol Hill, Indiana Congressman Greg Pence took part in highlighting the “digital divide” that many Hoosiers are dealing with and could still be dealing with even if Biden’s proposal were to be passed by Congress.
“For rural districts like the one I represent in southeast Indiana, the pandemic highlighted a clear division of opportunity that exists between rural communities and our urban counterparts,” Pence said.
“Even before the pandemic hit, I knew students that would drive to the local McDonalds just to complete their homework because a broadband connection to the home was unavailable.”
Pence fears that even though Biden’s plan does focus on expanding access to broadband Internet in rural areas, it could also prioritize areas of the country too heavily that already have reliable Internet.
“Before we talk about 100 symmetrical upload and download, let’s figure out how to connect the remote parts of our country that have been living on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Pence said.
He’s proposing that the federal government draw on the expertise of rural Internet providers such as NineStar Connect, Smithville Communications, and Decatur REMC in his district in eastern and southern Indiana in order to close that gap.