Infrastructure Bill to Increase Internet Access
A Boost for Internet Providers
This week, the $1 trillion infrastructure bill is making its way through the Senate. The bill includes $65 billion to help improve internet access for low-income and remote communities, which could give internet providers like AT&T (T) and Charter Communications (CHTR) a boost.
Though the bill will likely go through changes before it becomes law, it could include $40 billion in grants for states to give out to internet providers who commit to expanding the reach of their networks. AT&T has said that it is already planning to grow its fiber-optic network to serve millions of new locations, but government support could help with this process for it and other internet providers.
Help for Low-Income Families
The bill in its current form also provides money to extend a program which helped low-income Americans pay for their internet and phone bills during the pandemic. Over 825 providers signed up to offer service through the program.
This fund has helped low-income families weather a difficult time. It has also aided internet and phone companies, which have been able to retain customers because they are receiving aid.
The Importance of Internet Access
The pandemic highlighted the importance of expanding access to high-speed internet in the US. Internet access became even more crucial for students when millions of schools went remote. Additionally, people in both high- and low-wage jobs needed fast, reliable internet access for work. A study showed that the absence of high-speed internet during the pandemic caused a 3% drop in labor productivity in the US.
Many companies are deciding to keep remote or hybrid work models in place, not just for executives, but for executive assistants, bookkeepers, and other workers who used to work in offices. Access to good internet will help cut down on inequality as the economy becomes increasingly digitized.
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