Project

Broadband Access Initiative

Broadband connects communities to an increasingly digital world. It has transformed industries, changed the way people access goods and services, and become an indispensable part of modern life.

Yet despite more than two decades of public and private efforts to expand broadband access, gaps persist. More than 18 million Americans—perhaps upwards of 42 million—still lack access to a reliable high-speed internet connection. And that does not include the millions of Americans who cannot afford connections when they are available.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for improving coverage, future efforts would benefit from data-driven policy discussions informed by rigorous, unbiased research.

The broadband access initiative focuses on:

  • Promising practices. Examining what leaders at every level of government can learn from successful state and local efforts to increase connectivity.
  • Research. Conducting in-depth analyses of issues related to broadband access and expansion, including state policy and public funding models.
  • Convenings. Bringing together government, research, and industry leaders and other stakeholders for data-driven discussions about improving broadband access.
US Treasury Department building
US Treasury Department building
Article

State's Leadership Role in Bridging Digital Divide

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Article

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which President Joe Biden signed into law March 11, includes more than $362 billion that state and local governments can use to expand access to broadband services, with $350 billion from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and $10 billion from the Capital Projects Fund. The stimulus package represents a tremendous opportunity for state leaders to act to shrink the digital divide.

Student at computer
Student at computer
Fact Sheet

3 Key Components to Effective State Broadband Programs

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Fact Sheet

States throughout the country have created programs to expand broadband connectivity for their residents. And although the configuration of these programs varies, research has indicated that the most successful ones include the same core components: a state-level broadband office with full-time staff, systems to support local and regional planning and technical assistance, and well-funded competitive grant programs for internet service providers, such as telephone and cable companies, wireless internet service providers, electric cooperatives, and municipal utilities

Person at computer
Person at computer
Opinion

Three Steps to Universal Broadband Access

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Opinion

Policymakers did not suddenly wake up during the COVID-19 pandemic and discover that millions of Americans lack access to an affordable, reliable high-speed broadband connection; they have heard that from community leaders, consumers and companies for years.

Remote classroom
Remote classroom
Article

Broadband Proved a Top Priority for State Policymakers

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Article

States nationwide committed last year to significant funding to expand access to broadband services, even amid an economic recession. The COVID-19 pandemic—and the necessity to move routine activities such as schooling and doctors’ visits online to maintain social distancing—sharpened the focus of governors and lawmakers in 2020 on the need to close the digital divide.

OUR WORK

State Broadband Policy Explorer
State Broadband Policy Explorer
Data Visualization

State Broadband Policy Explorer

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Data Visualization

State Broadband Policy Explorer

Pew’s broadband research initiative reviewed state statutes, executive orders, and other governing directives for “broadband” and related terms (e.g., “high-speed internet”). This tool also includes information on state broadband programs gathered from state websites. All information was provided to states for review and verification.

Broadband
Broadband
Report

How States Are Expanding Broadband Access

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Report

Broadband is increasingly intertwined with the daily functions of modern life. It is transforming agriculture, supporting economic development initiatives, and is a critical piece of efforts to improve health care and modernize transportation. But the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that 21 million Americans still lack broadband access.