Why large swaths of ‘digital deserts’ are counting on an infrastructure deal

While the share of households with a broadband connection has been increasing, according to the Federal Communications Commission, millions of households across America — disproportionately in communities of color, rural areas and low-income households — lack reliable and affordable connectivity. Large swaths of rural and urban America are “digital deserts” where high-speed internet access is unavailable at any price.

Some North Carolina residents still fight for internet access

More than 30 million Americans live in areas where the internet infrastructure simply isn’t there. This disproportionately affects rural and tribal areas because it’s just too expensive for private companies to install the wiring. The farther homes are spread apart, the lower the return on investment. So some cities and counties across the country have decided to build broadband as a utility for residents, just like water or power. Residents in Wilson County have some of the best internet in the nation.

Congress could spend big on broadband. Tribal nations say it can't come soon enough.

Affordable high-speed, broadband internet is rare across Navajo Nation, the reservation that stretches across three southwestern U.S. states and is larger than state of West Virginia. And its absence for many families, especially over the past 15 months, has further exposed how critical access to it is for residents to participate in basic elements of society. It’s a problem the Biden administration is looking to tackle as part of its infrastructure push.