Internet for all? A cure for the digital divide in the U.S.

Today, U.S. Representative James E. Clyburn introduced the “Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act” in the House of Representatives, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Access Now endorses the bill, an important step towards ensuring everyone in the United States can get online.

Among other provisions, the legislation includes $6 billion for Emergency Broadband Benefit refill, $2 billion for the E-Rate Emergency Connectivity Fund, and “Dig Once” policies that make it easier and less expensive for providers to install broadband infrastructure.

“It’s clear the digital divide will not fix itself,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “The COVID pandemic has forced many online, but the digital divide has left behind the nation’s low-income communities and communities of color. The Affordable, Accessible Internet for All Act tackles this issue head-on by narrowing the chasm between the broadband haves and have-nots. Not only does the legislation fund digital inclusion programs and infrastructure, it overrides states that have made community broadband solutions difficult or impossible, and requires broadband providers to be transparent about their pricing data. Passing this bill will substantially close the digital divide, helping to bring the nation’s most at-risk communities online.”