In the 21st century, fast, reliable, and affordable Internet service is essential to modern life and our democracy, yet so many Americans have little or no access to it.

The United States lags behind much of the developed world in providing reliable, affordable broadband service. Individuals living in both urban and rural areas are impacted by the digital divide, unable to access or afford broadband internet. This makes it more difficult for millions of Americans to move out of poverty, find jobs, obtain health care and social services, access distance learning, and advocate for community change.

As technology advances, many of our basic democracy values depend on robust connectivity. Broadband enhances civic engagement, participation in the democratic process, and a responsive government. Yet, millions in our country lack access to affordable, high-speed broadband and continue to face significant barriers to get online. 

Right now, the Federal Communications Commission is relying on flawed data and inaccurate maps. The FCC must do more to close the digital divide and ensure that everyone has affordable and equal broadband access. 

Affordability remains the most significant barrier to broadband adoption while those on the wrong side of the digital divide are disproportionately low-income, people of color, seniors, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities. Without broadband, these communities live in a democracy where their voices go unheard and their needs are unmet.

The Lifeline program is the only federal program focused on providing affordable communications services for low-income Americans. But the program currently provides a modest subsidy, has a woefully low participation rate, and must be modernized to meet the 21st century connectivity needs of low-income communities.  

Common Cause is committed to advancing policies that connect everyone to affordable broadband through improved mapping and data collection, digital inclusion programs, robust broadband Lifeline service, and fighting back against harmful telecom mergers. Attaining the full promise of our democracy must start with closing the digital divide to ensure that each of us has an equal voice in the future of our country.

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