WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – In an effort to bridge the digital divide, President Joe Biden announced that 20 internet service providers have agreed to speed up internet service and reduce costs for millions of Americans. The average cost of a high-speed Internet connection in the United States is $61.07 per month, among the highest in the world.
Those who qualify for the Income-Based Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, will receive $30 grants for their internet service. One of these 20 offers is based in Kansas.
The ACP essentially expands access to reliable internet by making it more affordable for low-income families, but in Kansas, the digital divide isn’t just based on income. Local providers strive to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas of the state.
In 2022, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.
“Being able to work from home, having access to remote learning and telehealth, that’s why we’re so excited to sign up for this program,” said Jade Piros De Carvalho, Director of Industry Relations and the community at Ideatek.
Ideatek, based in Buhler, has partnered with the White House to make the service more affordable for Kansans. Regardless of income level, in some rural areas Kansans still lack access to high-speed internet. Most major service providers simply won’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to install it for just a few customers.
“If you don’t or can’t make a business plan to serve a pocket of rural Americans and there’s no return on that investment, you’re not going to spend your money there. “said Catherine Moyer, CEO of Pioneer Communications, in Ulysses. . “You’re going to spend your money where it makes business sense to spend your money.
That’s what companies like Ideatek and Pioneer Communications were founded on: expanding access where high-speed internet doesn’t exist, using state federal grants and subsidies, and focusing on a return on investment to more long term.
“As a co-op, we’re unique in that we don’t respond to Wall Street, we don’t respond to shareholder pressure,” Moyer said. “What we respond to is our member owners. And our member owners want service in the areas where they live.
The payment for this investment is the survival of rural communities and seeing local communities thrive, proponents say.
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