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New White House initiative pledges broadband to 20 million more people by 2020

New White House initiative pledges broadband to 20 million more people by 2020

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Today, President Obama announced a new broadband initiative called ConnectALL, aimed at providing broadband to underserved areas. The initative aims to bring broadband access to another 20 million Americans by 2020, building on previous goals set by the National Broadband Initiative in 2010. "Connectivity is a path to greater opportunity," the White House said in a statement. "We cannot be satisfied if broadband is out of reach for anyone in America."

The most immediate effort is one that was announced yesterday by the FCC: a proposed broadband subsidy for poor households, scheduled for a commission vote on March 31st. President Obama publicly endorsed the measure as part of ConnectALL, submitting an issue brief to the Council of Economic Advisers that details the economic effects of broadband access.

"Connectivity is a path to greater opportunity"

The effort also includes a new digital literacy pilot project, which will send Americorps volunteers to teach computer skills at libraries, museums and other community centers in underserved areas around the country. Other aspects of the initiative will look to provide new hardware to underserved communities, marshalling resources from private sector companies, philanthropic groups and government agencies alike.

Internet access has grown significantly in the last 15 years, jumping from roughly half of households in 2001 to three quarters of households in 2014. Still, that growth hasn't been evenly spread, as the White House research shows. Among the poorest 20 percent of households in America, just under half have access to home internet, compared with 95 percent of households in the richest 20 percent.