Two decades into the new millennium, the digitalization of American life is no longer striking—it is ordinary. Every industry relies on computing, cloud storage, or other digital equipment to sell goods and services. Employers increasingly demand more advanced digital skills from the labor force. Meanwhile, people’s individual lives often orbit around the internet, whether at home, at work, or on the move. Even decades-old infrastructure—from roads and rails to water pipes and the energy grid—now relies on digital equipment for construction, operation, and modernization.
Broadband is so influential on society that we would now call it essential infrastructure.
That means affordable subscription prices, universal access to connected devices, and a population equipped with digital skills are now vital characteristics of a healthy neighborhood, city, state, or country. Broadband’s applications are so far-reaching that these physical networks directly and indirectly affect a wide range of conditions that impact health and life outcomes, known as social determinants of health (SDOH).