Category Archives: Broadband & Internet

A promise made! A promise kept!

Jarrett Smith
August 31, 2022

The elimination of student debt was one of President Biden’s campaign promises. Earlier this month,  I was heartened to learn that he followed through with his pledge:  forgiveness for some student loan debt. There are an estimated 43 million Americans who eligible to participate in the upcoming program.

In real terms, this means millions of U.S. students will see an increase in their discretionary income. They will have more freedom to save for a down payment for a house, reduce medical expenses, save for a child’s future education, open a business, and more because of this policy decision.  While not all in Congress support this move, the possibility of tangible improvements for so many struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month is now encoded in law.

Key elements of the White House student loan forgiveness plan include:

  • Provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year or households earning less than $250,000 are eligible for debt cancellation;
  • Extend the federal student loan pause a final time through December 31, 2022 to provide borrowers a smooth transition back to repayment; and
  • Make the student loan system more manageable for current and future borrowers by cutting monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans and holding schools accountable when they hike up prices.

Student loan borrowers can go to to receive more details on the plan from the Department of Education.

The President’s new policy is in line with NETWORK’s mission as his action reflects Catholic Social Justice.  As people of faith, we are called to live the Gospel in a broken and suffering world. With college costs, and loan borrowing to meet the high costs, soaring well beyond the means of wage-earners, and our nation still in recovery from a pandemic, we must advocate for a federal government that promotes human dignity. By providing much-needed relief to federal student loan borrowers, our nation took another step towards the common good.

Infrastructure Law Coordinator-Landrieu

The President’s Bridge Builder – Mitch Landrieu

The President’s Bridge Builder

Q&A With Mitch Landrieu

August 16, 2022

Mitch Landrieu, a senior adviser to the president and coordinator of implementation of the infrastructure law

Credit: Wikipedia

A major accomplishment of President Biden’s first year was the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion effort to modernize U.S. roads, bridges, transit, broadband, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

Leading this effort is Mitch Landrieu, a Catholic and former mayor of New Orleans (2010-2018). As mayor, Landrieu performed an infrastructure improvement of sorts when he removed the city’s Confederate statues.

He shared with Connection about his work for the Administration and its importance in rebuilding solidarity in society.

Q: What makes an inherently nuts-and-bolts issue like infrastructure come alive for you?

Mitch Landrieu: Infrastructure can seem like a big word – what it is really is about is building a better America and helping people in their daily lives.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity – to rebuild our roads and bridges, so you can get where you need to go, quickly and safely; upgrade our ports and waterways, so you can get what you want quickly and cheaply; and expand access to high-speed internet to all Americans, so where you are from has no bearing on how high you go.

And when we do those things right, we can create millions of good-paying jobs. We can reduce costs for middle-class families. We can fight the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

Most importantly, we can win the economic competition of the 21st century and shape a brighter future for the generations to come. That is what gets me really excited.

Q: What is the most significant aspect of the work you’ve so far overseen for the Administration?

ML: When President Biden asked me to lead infrastructure implementation, he was clear in his charge: Build a better America without unnecessary bureaucracy and delay while doing what is difficult for the sake of what is right.

And that is what we have done in the past seven months.

We have already pushed $110 billion out the door – money that is going towards cleaning up communities, fighting climate change, creating new and better jobs, a and building a bridge to our future economy. And we have got nearly 5000 projects all across the country – in every state, DC, and Puerto Rico – that are identified or are already underway.

I am also really excited about the work we’re doing to close the digital divide, both in terms of laying new broadband and providing affordable high speed internet for those who cannot afford it.

That’s real results where people live and where it really matters. And we are just getting started.

Q: What role does investing in infrastructure play in recovering a sense of solidarity in our society?

ML: President Biden often says that America can be defined in one word: possibilities.

And that’s what we are proving with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We, as Americans, can do big things again.

And we can work together to get things done.

This once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure is an opportunity to build a bridge – both literal and figurative – to the future. A bridge to a 21st century economy where every American has access to good-paying jobs. A bridge to a resilient nation that can withstand the natural disasters that tear our communities apart. A bridge to an America where no American is forgotten or left-behind – and we are more united than divided.

Bridges connect us – they connect people, communities, and the country – and that is exactly what we are doing with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Q: How does your faith inform how you approach this role?

ML: I am a big believer in the common good and lifting people up. It’s why I am so driven to racial equity work. It’s why I think we have to have a moral movement against poverty.

A Jesuit priest, Fr. Harry Tompson, who served as a mentor to so many in New Orleans, told me to “go where you can do the most good for the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time.”  That has always stuck with me.

I take that with me in my work each and every day.

Q: You removed Confederate statues as mayor of New Orleans. What did that experience teach you about community?

ML: A big part of removing the Confederate statues in New Orleans was about reconciling our past and choosing a better future for ourselves – making straight what had been crooked and making right what was wrong.

Sometimes inequity is right in front of us – like the statues were for me – but we do not see it.  Once you do see it, it is hard to look away.

The other thing that was more basic is that our public spaces belong to all of us. The names of buildings, the statues we erect, the way we remember our history do really matter. Making sure everyone is included is critical.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking a large step in the right direction. We are ensuring every community has access to safe and clean drinking water. We are ensuring every community has access to high-speed Internet. And we are ensuring every community is protected from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

The future of our communities requires righting the past and building for the future. And that is what we will do with President Biden’s once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure.

This article originally appeared in the Third Quarter 2022 issue of Connection, NETWORK’s quarterly magazine – A Time to Build. Read the entire issue here.

Biden Administration Expanded Broadband Access and Affordability

Jarrett Smith
June 7, 2021

The Biden Administration Expanded Broadband Access and Affordability with funding from last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Millions of families across the United States now have access to affordable, and even free, high-speed internet. Affordable broadband is a matter of racial and economic justice, as those without broadband are disproportionately Black and Brown folks, low-income families, or people in rural communities.

Every aspect of life in the U.S. requires access to the internet, including social services, health care, education, unemployment benefits, and more.  As the White House pointed out in their statement, “High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity.” The coronavirus pandemic has proven that expanded Broadband access and affordability are critical for accessing health care, kids’ primary education, and other needs for communities across the country.  We must reduce costs and increase access to broadband so no family has to go without high-speed internet or cut back on other necessities to afford their internet payments.

Learn About the Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) launched in January 2022 to help more families afford broadband. It is the largest high-speed internet affordability program in our nation’s history. More than 11 million households are already enrolled in the ACP, but experts estimate that 48 million households—nearly 40% of households in the country—qualify.

Families whose household income is 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or less—about $55,000 per year for a family of four or $27,000 for an individual—or who have a member of their household participating in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or a number of other federal support programs, are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

ACP provides households a discount of up to $30/month on internet service ($75/month on Tribal lands).  In addition to this discount, the Biden administration recently announced that 20 leading internet providers across the country have agreed to either reduce prices or raise speeds on internet plans they offer to provide ACP-eligible households with quality internet for no more than $30/month. When families pair the $30 ACP benefit with one of these plans, they will receive high-speed internet at no cost.

Connecting Families with Expanded Broadband Access and Affordability

Nearly 40% of households in the country qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), and we need to make sure that every family that can benefit from this program does. The White House launched, an, easy-to-use website with details about signing up for ACP and finding participating internet providers, and is partnering with public interest organizations like Catholic Charities USA to conduct direct enrollment and outreach.

Visit today to find out if you qualify and share this information with your family, friends, and community.