In recent years, the call for affordable and community-led internet has grown louder, echoing the sentiments of many who believe that internet access is a fundamental right, not a luxury. Grassroots organizations, tech writers, and even the U.S. government have joined the movement, emphasizing the importance of bridging the digital divide.
Grassroots Efforts: NYC Mesh and Beyond
One of the most notable grassroots organizations leading the charge is NYC Mesh. Their mission? To close the digital divide, one rooftop at a time. By setting up community-based networks, they aim to provide affordable and reliable internet access to those who need it most. Such initiatives are crucial in urban areas where the digital divide is starkly evident, and where many residents are left without reliable internet access.
The Broken Internet: A Call for Change
Leading tech writer Ben Tarnoff has also weighed in on the issue. In his book, “Internet for the People,” Tarnoff argues that the internet is broken primarily because it’s owned by private firms and run for profit. He suggests that the solution lies in returning the internet to its publicly owned, civically oriented roots. This perspective resonates with many who believe that the internet, in its current state, prioritizes profit over people.
Government Initiatives: The “Internet for All” Movement
The U.S. government has not remained silent on this issue. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has allocated a whopping $65 billion investment to ensure all Americans can access affordable, reliable, and high-speed internet. Termed “Internet for All,” this initiative recognizes that in today’s digital age, internet access is as crucial as other forms of infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Moreover, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a part of President Biden’s infrastructure plan, offers significant discounts to eligible households. With up to $30/month ($75/month on qualifying Tribal lands) off high-speed Internet service and up to a $100 discount on devices like desktops, laptops, or tablets, the ACP is a significant step towards making the internet accessible to all.
Why It Matters
- Access to the internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.
- High-speed internet benefits not just individuals but the nation as a whole.
- Bridging the digital divide can lead to more opportunities in education, work, and healthcare.
The movement for affordable, community-led broadband is more than just about internet access. It’s about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status, has an equal opportunity to access information, opportunities, and more. As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s imperative that we prioritize internet for the people, by the people.
- Grassroots organizations like NYC Mesh are leading community-based internet initiatives.
- Tech writers like Ben Tarnoff advocate for a publicly owned, civically oriented internet.
- The U.S. government’s “Internet for All” initiative aims to make high-speed internet accessible to every American.
- The Affordable Connectivity Program offers significant discounts to eligible households, further bridging the digital divide.