Biden wants to lower broadband costs – industry says they’ve done that through subsidies but we need lower for all

Axios reports

President Biden’s promise to cut the price of Americans’ internet bills has provoked a fierce lobbying campaign by cable and telecom companies to prove that the cost of broadband has already dropped.

Why it matters: Internet providers are desperate to fend off any move to regulate the prices they charge, while the government is increasingly viewing connectivity as an essential service.

State of play: Internet industry lobbyists are publicly touting studies showing a decline in prices, attacking reports that argue otherwise and telling members of Congress there’s no need for new regulations because they already have affordable programs in place.

The article goes into detail about what’s happening, why it’s happening and the implications. The issue is that President Biden is looking to make broadband more affordable to everyone and the providers talk about ways to subsidize low income customers. There’s a difference. There’s a difference in who might be paying the subsidy. For example, the Emergency Broadband Benefit provides $50/month to low income households for broadband ($75 in tribal areas) and that is public money. There’s a difference in who qualifies for subsidies.

For many users, just lowering the price would lower the barrier and make it more affordable and sustainable to keep a connection. In fact, at a lower rate providers might get more customers who don’t need the subsidy.

A few years ago, I re-posted a letter from former Blandin Broadband Strategy Board member who explained the difference from the frontlines…

However, these subsidized programs exclude the working poor, and working and middle class who still need affordable internet; and we really need to make Internet affordable for all. …

During that time I found out there was a new cheaper fiber option in my neighborhood through US Internet, and so I switched over and ended up saving about $500 a year. I put away that money and put $300 into a retirement account, spent $100 on groceries, and spent $100 towards travel.

Thanks to this new internet option I was unexpectedly able to save more for retirement and take a much needed vacation. Well, I told everyone about US Internet, but became shocked to hear that cheaper internet wasn’t an option for some because of the neighborhoods they lived in. (Fiber networks like Google Fiber and US Internet are often relegated to upper class neighborhoods because of a guaranteed profit). In Twin Cities the current internet service system makes working people in poorer neighborhoods have fewer, but more expensive, internet service provider options.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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