21 Million Americans Still Lack Broadband Connectivity

Pew will provide research and data to help policymakers working to expand access

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21 Million Americans Still Lack Broadband Connectivity

Editor’s note: The Federal Communications Commission has updated these numbers; the FCC’s latest broadband deployment report can be found here.

What is broadband?

Broadband is high-speed, reliable internet with actual download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. It can be delivered via fiber, wireless, satellite, digital subscriber line (DSL), or cable.1

Who doesn’t have access?

From farming to homework to health care, broadband keeps individuals, communities, and businesses connected and engaged in today’s world. But many Americans and critical institutions still lack access.

Connecting research to policy

The broadband research initiative will give policymakers information they need to develop effective ways to improve broadband access through:

  • Promising practices: Identifying how states have addressed gaps in connectivity.
  • Research: Conducting and synthesizing research on issues related to broadband access and expansion.
  • Convenings: Bringing together issue leaders to have research-driven discussions about improving access.


  1. Federal Communications Commission, “2019 Broadband Deployment Report” (2019), https://www.fcc.gov/document/broadband-deployment-report-digital-divide-narrowing-substantially-0.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Federal Communications Commission, “2016 Broadband Progress Report” (2016), https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/2016-broadband-progress-report.
  4. Brian E. Whitacre, Denna Wheeler, and Chad Landgraf, “What Can the National Broadband Map Tell Us About the Health Care Connectivity Gap?” The Journal of Rural Health 33, no. 3 (2017): 235-339, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jrh.12177.