The COVID-19 pandemic exposed that too many Americans are without access to fast, reliable, and affordable broadband. The Aspen Economic Strategy Group indicates that a high-quality, reliable home internet service for all Americans would increase labor productivity by an estimated 1.1%. This could provide our country gains of $160 billion per year. For entrepreneurs and new business owners, broadband provides a wealth of possibilities, including filling online sales, connecting to the global market, accessing new investors, and better supporting their employees and customers.
To further level the playing field and reduce barriers to entrepreneurship, the federal government should:
- Create and deploy a national broadband plan to ensure all Americans are connected to the internet with fast, reliable, and affordable service.The plan should build a more competitive broadband marketplace and address the cost of service by ensuring that the Lifeline subsidy for low-income households is adequate to support their access.
- Geographic disparities remain when it comes to access to broadband in the United States. A 2020 Federal Communications Commission report stated that 98.5% of Americans in urban areas have access to fixed terrestrial broadband, but only 77.7% of those in rural areas and 72.3% on tribal lands do.
- Approximately 18% of Black Americans are without home broadband subscriptions.
- Fifty-one percent of households with an annual income below $25,000 do not have home internet service because it is too expensive.
- U.S. consumers pay the highest average costs for internet service of any region examined by New America in its report.