The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy Karr: 201-533-8838,,

White House Declares Broadband an Essential Utility, Pledges to End Digital Divide by 2030

During a White House event on Monday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris provided important details about the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, a $42.5-billion federal-funding initiative in support of affordable high-speed internet access.

The BEAD program, administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce, is designed to fund deployment of robust broadband infrastructure in largely rural areas of the country that don’t have adequate high-speed internet service.

BEAD was created in 2021 under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Alongside the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), BEAD will cover some of the costs of making broadband available and affordable to unserved and underserved communities. BEAD money will be distributed in all 50 states and U.S. territories to locally available access providers.

Free Press Co-CEO Craig Aaron, who attended today’s White House event, said:

“Today’s funding announcement marks an important step toward fulfilling Congress’ commitment to close the digital divide — and makes it more likely that those new high-speed internet services will be more affordable. We applaud the White House and Congress for supporting universal access and are grateful this investment is going out the door. BEAD funding marks an important recognition that broadband should be treated as an essential utility that must be affordable to everyone in the United States.

“The NTIA recognized that deployment of fiber infrastructure is the best way to maximize this public investment. The NTIA also sent a strong message to states that restrict municipal broadband deployment, encouraging them to waive those limits. Letting communities determine their own path forward is a big part of guaranteeing the internet for all. The agency also requires recipients of BEAD money to provide affordable, low-cost options to subscribers they will serve.

“While there’s much to celebrate today, we can’t ignore the need for additional funding to support the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which was created under the same statute as the BEAD program. Close to 19 million households are enrolled in the FCC program right now, and enrollment numbers are only going up. If Congress fails to invest more funding in the ACP, millions of people could lose affordable access to high-speed internet services, including networks the BEAD program will fund.”

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