Broadband Funding, Policies May Change in a Biden White House
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to make a difference when it comes to federal broadband initiatives, experts say. The two remaining Senate races in Georgia also hold importance for federal Internet programs.
Discussions on FCC broadband programs may also shift under the new administration, assuming Congress approves of Biden’s nominee for the commission. Brake believes the E-Rate program, which helps schools and libraries attain “affordable broadband,” could see a quick change in terms of what it defines as allowable expenses for Internet devices, especially given the rise of at-home learning during the pandemic. Currently, E-Rate can only pay for devices within educational buildings.
“My kid is not learning in a building … that’s a disconnect,” Siefer said.
Similarly, given the increased importance of having an Internet connection during the COVID-19 crisis, the Lifeline program, which assists low-income individuals, may be reworked.
“We’re likely to see, under a Biden administration, opportunities to expand the Lifeline subsidy, especially during the pandemic, so that it includes more people,” Brake said. “The eligibility criteria could be widened.”