A chunk of Americans are having trouble accessing the internet, even as online access becomes more integral to everyday life.
A survey conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center found that 7% of Americans lack access to reliable broadband. One reason for this may be how expensive internet access is in the U.S.
“People in the U.S. pay more for slower internet than people abroad,” Open Technology Institute policy analyst Claire Park said. “For many consumers, the cost of getting online right now is simply too high and also too complicated.”
The Open Technology Institute has been studying the price and speed of internet services advertised within the United States as well as abroad. Its 2020 Cost of Connectivity Report found that the average advertised monthly cost of internet in the U.S. is $68.38, which is higher than the average price of internet access for all of North America, Europe and Asia.
Outdated infrastructure in the U.S. may also be impeding internet access to millions of Americans, and lawmakers have been debating how to increase internet availability and performance.
The U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in August, which includes $65 billion dollars to expand high-speed internet access. The legislation introduces policies that are meant to encourage competition among providers, increase transparency about pricing and upgrade broadband infrastructure.
While the legislation easily passed the Senate, it hit some snags in the Democratic-controlled House. The vote has been pushed back several times as Democrats hammer out details on the wider bill.
To be sure, greater internet access could boost U.S. economic growth. A report published in April by Deloitte found that a 10 percentage point increase in broadband access could have resulted in more than 875,000 additional U.S. jobs in 2014 as well as $186 billion more in economic output in 2019.
Watch the video above to learn why so many Americans lack access to high-speed internet, why those who can get it are paying more for slower speeds than people abroad and what are some ways policymakers can fix this.