Transportation and Infrastructure

Policy and Legal

Rural America Needs Better Broadband

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With so many people working from home, access to high-speed internet has become more important than ever, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription). Still, some people—and particularly those living in rural areas—continue to struggle to connect.

Some higher speeds: On average, internet speeds have gotten faster. According to data from WhistleOut, which compares broadband and wireless internet plans, home internet speeds across the United States have increased from an average of 84.9 megabits per second in March to 94.6 megabits per second in July. The minimum broadband service speed, according to the FCC, is 25 megabits per second.

A few rough patches: Still, plenty of people are being left out. A study from Microsoft suggests that up to 150 million people across the country have slow or unreliable internet connections.

Why it matters: Broadband doesn’t just make it possible to work from home; it’s also important for COVID-19 response measures like contact tracing.

The NAM’s angle: In April, the National Association of Manufacturers released the “American Renewal Action Plan,” which calls for historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure, including digital infrastructure, to spur economic renewal and competitiveness. The NAM’s “Building to Win” strategy also includes a focus on broadband buildout along with other forms of infrastructure critical for manufacturing.

The word from NAM: “Connectivity was already a key issue for manufacturers before this crisis as they embraced digital transformation,” said NAM Director of Innovation Policy Stephanie Hall. “The importance of universal broadband for our industry and communities is even clearer now as we turn to technology solutions for work, school and nearly every aspect of daily life.”

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