Framing the Issue

Rural areas across the U.S. face serious challenges in delivering broadband internet, and this lack of access has large implications for regional economies, education, health care, and other key aspects of modern life. For decades, Americans have increasingly relied upon internet connections to communicate, access services, and share information. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only increased Americans’ reliance on the internet to attend school, visit a doctor, and go to work. However, millions of Americans, many of them rural residents, lack access to a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection.

The problem is well documented: According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 14.5 million Americans, and 13% of Americans in rural areas, still lack access to a broadband internet connection. Many researchers insist that federal government data significantly understates the extent of the problem, suggesting that the real number of Americans without internet access is closer to 42 million.[2] While sources differ on the magnitude of the issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the impacts of wanting connectivity to the forefront of the national dialogue and spurred thousands of rural communities to start working towards the goal of universal broadband connectivity in their communities.

In order to help local development think through the process of expanding regional broadband coverage, DDAA has developed this website as a resource for LDD staff and leadership. DDAA has reviewed key literature and interviewed subject matter experts and regional stakeholders to develop a “roadmap” featuring the key steps in expanding broadband.