COVID 19 Federal Funding Can Address Broadband Gap

COVID 19 illustrated the economic challenges for communities without adequate broadband services. According to the FCC, the definition of broadband internet is a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds.[i] Broadband provides high speed internet access via multiple types of technologies including fiber optics, wireless, cable, DSL and satellite.[ii] The availability of broadband enables all the benefits of the digital information age to support business growth, and it eliminates the lack of density and the challenge of distance created for rural communities in particular. Regions without adequate broadband networks struggle to utilize telemedicine, telework and even basic wireless telecommunication service. According to the Federal Communications Commission and USDA, 80% of the 24 million American households that do not have reliable, affordable high-speed internet are located in rural areas. The lack of high-speed access carries real economic consequences. The World Bank estimates that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.21% jump in GDP growth in developed economies and a 1.38% jump in developing economies.[iii] The FCC argues that the economic payoff from investing to improve broadband access is greater than from other types of infrastructure investments.[iv]