Nov. 6, 2021
Last Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion package that includes $65 billion for broadband infrastructure and affordability. In August 2021, the bill was overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. Senate and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
This bill includes funding to provide $30 per month to qualifying low-income households and $75 in Tribal areas for internet service. The bill also requires ISPs to adopt a “broadband nutrition label,” an idea first proposed by OTI in 2009. Overall, the bill is a historic investment for digital inclusion efforts, connectivity for Native Nations, broadband infrastructure, and price transparency.
The following can be attributed to Sarah Morris, director of New America’s Open Technology Institute:
“The Investment and Jobs Act is a historic step forward for broadband access, affordability, and equity. Millions of people across the country have been on the wrong side of the digital divide for too long, putting their livelihoods at risk in an era when internet access is a must. This investment in broadband infrastructure and affordability has the potential to be truly transformative. We are particularly relieved to see that the Emergency Broadband Benefit created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue in the form of the more permanent Affordable Connectivity Program, especially given the role high prices play in especially preventing low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribes from getting online.
“Lack of pricing transparency has also impacted affordability and people’s ability to figure out what they’re paying for when it comes to their broadband service, so we are thrilled to see that the bill will require broadband consumer labels. With these truth-in-billing, broadband “nutrition” labels, people will be better able to shop for service, understand what they’re paying for, and hold their providers accountable for unnecessary and often hidden fees like data cap penalties and contract termination fees.
“The bill’s investments to ensure broadband is available and affordable for families across the country go a long way in working to close the digital divide. We look forward to President Biden signing this bill into law.”