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.
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. States are now submitting proposals to NTIA to expand broadband using the new federal investment.
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.
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
Microsoft Airband: An Annual Update on Connecting Rural America – Shelley McKinley, Microsoft on the Issues
U.S. Broadband Maps – Microsoft Power BI