Congress’ long-awaited COVID-19 relief bill could be good news for those who need to learn and work remotely during the pandemic. Axios has learned the package in the newly agreed deal earmarks $7 billion for broadband access. About $3.2 billion of that would go to an Emergency Broadband Benefit (prompted by legislation from Sen. Ron Wyden) that would offer low-income families $50 per month toward internet access vital to classwork and remote-capable jobs.
The rest of the bill is mixed, according to a Capitol Hill aide. It devotes $1 billion to Tribal broadband initiatives. About $300 million would go to rural broadband, $285 million would back a broadband pilot for communities near historically Black colleges, $250 million would go to the FCC’s telehealth push and $65 million would aid broadband mapping. Notably, $1.9 billion is slated for replacing Huawei and ZTE equipment — this isn’t strictly about improving access.