The bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill awaiting consideration in the House includes $65 billion for broadband, including grants to states for physical infrastructure like towers and cables, discounts for home Internet for disadvantaged families, and WiFi hotspots in schools. Here are five facts about the state of broadband in America.
- More than 30 million Americans lack adequate broadband.
These Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides what the FCC considers minimally acceptable speed, with those living in rural areas and on tribal lands most affected. According to the FCC, 22.3% of rural areas do not have adequate broadband coverage, compared to just 1.5% of urban areas.
- More than 162 million Americans are not using the Internet at broadband speeds.
A Microsoft study found that 162.8 million people are not using the Internet at those minimally acceptable broadband speeds (enabling everyday functions like video streaming), due to poor infrastructure, spotty coverage, and lack of access. Microsoft’s chief data analytics officer said this “has a very real impact on economic well-being,” noting that the areas with the highest unemployment rates have the lowest broadband use.
- Black and Latino Americans have less broadband access.
While 80% of white Americans say they have broadband access at home, just 71% of Blacks and 65% of Latinos say the same. While just 49% of whites say a lack of at-home broadband makes it harder to them to connect with doctors, 63% of Blacks say that is the case for them. The Senate infrastructure bill provides $2.75 billion to states to develop plans to make sure at-risk, disadvantaged, and vulnerable communities have affordable Internet connections.
- The U.S. ranks 16th in the world in broadband speeds.
U.S. broadband is slower than broadband in Hungary, Malta, Slovakia, and 12 other nations with much smaller economies and populations.
- Americans pay nearly twice as much as Europeans for high-speed Internet.
The average monthly cost of 100 Mbps home Internet access in the U.S. is $81.19. In Europe, it’s $48.48. Lack of reliable broadband infrastructure, lack of competition, and limited assistance for low-income households are among the reasons for the higher U.S. cost.
This article was first published on Real Clear Policy