Close the Broadband Gap

Affordable, Accessible High-Speed Internet for Every American

In May 2021, BroadbandNow confirmed that 42 million Americans lack access to broadband. Microsoft’s own research finds that more than 120 million people in the U.S.—representing more than one-third of our nation’s population—do not use the internet at broadband speeds.

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.

On August 10, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan infrastructure legislation that includes a $65 billion investment in broadband. This commitment includes funding to expand access as well as to help families afford broadband. Now the U.S. House needs to pass this legislation as well to send it to the President’s desk for signature. It is still possible that the bill stalls in the House. Even if that happens, there will be other opportunities for Congress to advance policies to close our nation’s broadband gap.

We will keep the Voices for Innovation community up to date about this issue as the infrastructure debate moves forward. Please explore the resources below. In addition, if you would like to receive Voices for Innovation’s weekly tech policy Executive Briefing, please click here.

Resources

Explainer: What the $65B Broadband Service Plan Will Do – AP

Urgency to Close Broadband Gap Crosses Rural, Urban Divide – Richard T. Cullen et al., Morning Consult

Addressing Racial and Digital Inequity – Vickie Robinson, Microsoft on the Issues

5 Steps to Get the Internet to All Americans – Tom Wheeler, Brookings Institution

BroadbandNow Estimates Availability for all 50 States; Confirms that More than 42 Million Americans Do Not Have Access to Broadband – BroadbandNow

Microsoft Airband: An Annual Update on Connecting Rural America – Shelley McKinley, Microsoft on the Issues

U.S. Broadband Maps – Microsoft Power BI