“Build it and they will come.”
This line has become shorthand for the idea that new infrastructure, once built, attracts customers. But with broadband—the technology that brings high-speed, reliable internet into our homes, schools, farms, and workplaces—the quote may have an unhappy twist: if you don’t build it, they won’t have a chance.
What’s missing is the infrastructure. The internet doesn’t come out of thin air: Broadband requires an array of physical elements—fibers, towers, and cables, among others—to move words, images, and sound from their source to our computers, laptops, and smartphones. At least 24 million Americans are still waiting for that infrastructure to bring them broadband, which is no longer just a convenience but rather is an essential cornerstone of American life—critical to education, health care, and the economy.
Before these millions of Americans can fully engage with people and information over the internet, the gaps in connectivity must be closed. That won’t happen unless broadband is included in any plan to modernize our nation’s infrastructure for the 21st century.