Affordable, Accessible High-Speed Internet for Every American
Microsoft data shows that more than one out of three people in the U.S. do not use the internet at broadband speeds (defined by the FCC as 25mbps down/3mbps up).
Without affordable, reliable broadband connectivity, Americans in both rural and urban communities are held back. This means millions of students are falling behind in school, many older Americans cannot access online healthcare through telehealth solutions, and job seekers and employers have limited options. Communities without broadband access have higher unemployment.
This is a challenge that government policy in conjunction with the private sector can help solve. We can improve education, help job seekers, and put prosperity in reach for more Americans if Congress provides adequate infrastructure investment and smart policies that enable:
- Internet access to reach communities of every size using any and all technologies that provide high-speed internet cost-effectively, including wired connections, fixed wireless, and satellite;
- Every American to afford internet service and computing devices needed to connect;
- New internet users to learn to connect and benefit from technology.
The stakes could hardly be higher. Internet access is fundamental to participating fully in our society and economy. Our nation, economy, businesses, communities, and families will all benefit if every American can get online.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Invests in Broadband
On November 5, 2021, the U.S. House passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which includes a $65 billion investment in broadband, sending the legislation to President Biden to be signed into law. (The Senate passed the bill in August.) This investment includes funding to expand access as well as to help families afford broadband.
Passage of the IIJA represents a significant step forward in closing our nation’s broadband gap. In May 2022, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued Notices of Funding Opportunity for broadband programs created by the infrastructure bill. All states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, have received initial Digital Equity and Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funds to develop plans for expanding broadband access.
We will keep the Voices for Innovation community up to date about this issue as implementation of the IIJA moves forward. Please explore the resources below. In addition, if you would like to receive Voices for Innovation’s weekly tech policy Executive Briefing, sign up for the Tech Policy Executive Briefing.
Microsoft Power BI
Shelley McKinley, Microsoft on the Issues
BroadbandNow Estimates Availability for all 50 States; Confirms that More than 42 Million Americans Do Not Have Access to Broadband
Tom Wheeler, Brookings Institution
Vickie Robinson, Microsoft on the Issues
Richard T. Cullen et al., Morning Consult