In the race for the 2020 presidential election, democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren has unveiled plans that stand to revolutionize internet access across the United States. On Wednesday, the professor-turned-Massachusetts senator proposed her solution to closing the gap between rural Americans and their access to broadband internet and healthcare.
According to a report released by the Federal Communications Commission last May, about 26% of Americans in rural areas have no access to home broadband internet. Even where broadband is available, many Americans can’t afford it. 19% of people who stated that they didn’t use the internet indicated that it was either the price of the service or the cost of purchasing a computer as the reason they aren't online, according to a Pew Research Center report.
In a Medium post, Warren outlined her plan, proposing she’d spend $85 billion to bring internet service to underserved rural areas, as well as restoring net neutrality implement maneuvers to prevent broadband providers to increase prices and monopolize markets. "I will make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford," Warren wrote.
Warren also proposed creating a federal Office of Broadband Access to manage the $85 billion grant program which would facilitate her plans. These grants would be awarded to electricity and telephone cooperatives, nonprofits, tribes and municipalities that pledge to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas.
“The federal government will pay 90 cents on the dollar for construction under these grants,” Warren wrote. “In exchange, applicants will be required to offer high-speed public broadband directly to every home in their application area.”
Advocates for expanding broadband access to rural communities welcomed the plan, which would finally bring more equal standing amongst Americans.
“One of the best tools for unlocking economic opportunity and advances in health care, like telemedicine, is access to reliable, high-speed Internet. In the twenty-first century, every home should have access to this technology — but we’re not even close to that today,” Warren wrote.
"No matter where you live in America you should have the opportunity to thrive," Warren implored. "But today that seems further and further out of reach for rural families. My plan will expand opportunities to rural families and my other major proposals do, too."