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A Broad Look at Broadband

What Is Broadband? Broadband, or high-speed internet, is internet with a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and a minimum upload speed of 3 Mbps—known as 25/3 Mbps speed. There are 6 main types of broadband: broadband over power lines (BPL), cable modem, digital subscriber line (DSL), fiber, satellite, and wireless. Fiber is the fastest, with speeds up to 10,000 Mbps in some areas. Cable is the most used.

Unlike most other types of infrastructure—such as roads, bridges, energy grids, water lines, and sewage systems—the nation’s digital infrastructure is largely corporate owned and generates revenues from paying subscribers.

Why Access Is Important. During the pandemic, technology has been a lifeline: 9 in 10 Americans said the internet has been essential or important to them over the past two years. But for those who lack digital access, inequality has widened. Without the internet, people are more likely to miss out on the ability to work, find a job, bank, participate in telemedicine, and do schoolwork, not to mention maintain social connections with friends and family. Affordability and availability are key factors for why people lack access.

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